Getting Started with Film Photography

During my 2016 Christmas break, I began looking to buy my own camera; however, cameras are not cheap. Especially when you're a broke college student.  As I was talking to my mom and showing her pictures of the cameras I wanted to buy, she told me to follow her into the other room. She started searching through boxes, one by one, until she found what she was looking for--my grandparent's Canon AE-1 camera from the 80s. It was a bit dusty, but not something a little rubbing alcohol and Q-tips couldn't fix. The next day, I set out to buy a new battery and some 35mm film. Once I got the camera up and running, my mom taught me what she knew from growing up with film photography.

How to Start Film Photography

I am not an expert but here are the steps I took to get started with film photography.

1. Purchase a camera.

You can buy a Canon AE-1 online for under $200. If you only buy the body of the camera, make sure to buy a lens, too.

2. Buy a battery. I found a battery at Rite Aid for about $10.

Alkaline-Manganese, 6V - Eveready (UCAR) No A544 IEC 4LR44

Silver Oxide, 6V - Eveready (UCAR) No 544 Duracell PX 28, IEC 4 SR44

Lithium, 6V - Duracell PX 28 L

3. Buy 35mm film.

Depending on the type of photography you will be doing, you will need different types of film and the prices will vary. For the pictures above, I used 200 speed which was about $11 at Walmart.

- Fujifilm, 200 speed, Indoor & Outdoor photography (sunlight & flash)

-Fujifilm, 400 speed, Indoor & Outdoor/All Occasions (action & low light)

4. Read a manual or watch tutorial videos.

These will teach you everything from the different settings of the camera to how to get the film in and out.

5. Take pictures.

Keep in mind you won't be able to see the pictures until you develop them, so the pictures on the first roll of film may not turn out.

6. Develop the pictures.

I got mine developed at Walgreens for about $13 a roll. They sent my film away and gave me back a disc with my pictures on it.

7. Share your pictures.

Now, I am still learning how to work this camera but here are a few test shots:

(All of these photos were taken with 35mm, Fujifilm, 200 speed)

My dog, Megan.

A self portrait.

My mom crafting.

A walk through the park.


The daytime sky.