When you choose to start shooting film, you automatically sign yourself up to some important admin that comes with it. You need to store your negatives correctly and please, for the love of God, don’t ever throw them away! The negatives are your hard copy, the absolute reference to the image you took, you might not think you will ever need that frame again but trust me, you will! That 2Mb scan you have won’t hold up if you want to print it any larger than 5×7 so trust me, it’s going to make your life a lot easier in the future if you make the effort now to look after your negatives.
(Basically, don’t do what I did and shove them all in a shoebox for far too long to become an absolute mess and a headache to sort through)
The first thing you want to do is get negative sleeves, I would recommend these by Hama. For the cost of a couple of cups of coffee (that classic financial justification to buy anything) you can buy 100 sleeves that can hold 7 strips of 6 images. (It might be worth asking your lab if they can cut your film into 6 frames if they don’t already do that or just ask them not to cut it at all and do it yourself) The sleeves have a place for you to jot down some description of your roll and the date you shot it. So in short, £14 for safe storage of your negatives and also the ability to create some chronological archive – no brainer really!
The next thing you’re going to want to get something to store your negatives in, a box-binder is the best option for secure storage but a regular ring folder will do the job. Get one that is strong and sturdy and that can hold a decent amount of weight as you’re going to want to cram as much in there as possible.
When it comes to handling to your negatives, you need to be careful as it’s easy to cause damage to them.
- Make sure you only hold the negative by the edge, don’t put your fingers on the image
- Clear any dust and fingerprints off them before placing them in your negative sleeve
- Do not stack them, they will stick and you can accidentally ruin the neg
- Ensure you order them chronologically
- Store them flat
After you’ve completed all of the above, there’s one more thing you need to consider; where do you store this magical binder with your life’s work?
- A consistently mild temperature
- Low in humidity
- Away from sources of heat & light
There will be a time where you want to re-scan a negative, blow it up to a bigger size, sell it for prints and you’re going to thank yourself you looked after them and stored them correctly.
Congrats, you did an adult.