Sad Day: Costco & Film Processing

Have you ever had a bomb of bad news just drop on your chest?  If so, then you know the feelings I’m going through.  Actually its not as bad as it seems, but let me try to paint the picture.  Its like getting news that your pet goldfish died.  You know its going to happen, its just a matter of time.

The other day I went to run my typical errands at Costco.  Eat as many food samples as possible, pick up some groceries, get some gas for the car and drop off some 35mm film for development.  As I was grabbing the film drop off envelopes I saw this sign.


After reading the sign my first reaction was literally “Damn, now what?!”  All these thoughts and feelings came about, I was sad, upset and bewildered all within 5 minutes.  I knew that this day would come.  I’ve heard of a few Costco locations in Los Angeles that had their developing machine break down so instead of repairing it they just stopped offering that service.  Costco was really my go to “lab” for 35mm film development.  At $1.59 a roll just for development it really can’t be beat.  Considering that I was doing my own scanning with a Kodak Pakon F135 Plus shooting film was really inexpensive.  Because of my relatively low cost I would shoot more and not be afraid to experiment with it.

Considering my situation, I’m scrambling to look for a new lab that will develop 35mm film for a relatively low cost.  For the cost of one roll to get developed at a pro lab I could have easily had 3 rolls developed by Costco.  It doesn’t seem like much, but when you start to scale these labs fees into the upper hundreds of rolls it puts a dent into the bottom line.  I have at least 100+ rolls of film sitting in my fridge.  Just thinking of the lab fees has me discouraged to even continue shooting film or at least replenish my stockpile of Kodak Portra and Gold film stocks.

The whole reason for me to shoot film was to enjoy and appreciate the process of photography.  Shooting digital has gotten stale for me, the excitement was no longer there.  As a fashion photographer, with film I felt as if I was capturing a true moment of time.  Unlike digital it seems that I was shooting multiple frames and picking the best moment so the connection was lost sort of speak.  Photography means different things to others.  To some, photography is just business, its just a means to an end.  While that is true for me I also look to photography to fulfill the artistic side that wants to create.  And that’s what film did for me.

What good is a blog post if I didn’t share something of my own work.  Here’s a couple of shots from my last rolls of 35mm film developed from Costco then scanned by me on the Kodak Pakon F-135 Plus.  This one is from an agency test with Olivia of No Ties Management where I used the Contax G2 with the 35mm f/2 lens and Kodak Gold 200.


This second one was from an agency test with Mackenzie of No Ties Management as well.  The film stock used was Kodak Portra 160 and I think the camera was the Contax G2 with 35mm f/2 lens.  I’m pretty sure it was the Contax because I’ve been shooting with that a lot recently.


As I share the last rolls of film developed at Costco.  I’m going to miss the days of inexpensive 35mm film processing.  Where else can I find a “lab” that I can get my film processed with a 20 minute turn around and a hot dog and soda combo for $1.50.

-Rodney Alan

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