Jordan Brittley Blog » Missouri Wedding Photography

How to ship film safely (“meaningless tasks we all hate”) by Isaac Henson

Film is great. Can we all agree about that? The color, the bokeh, the detail in the highlights. But the one downside compared to digital photography is that you can’t see or use the images until they are processed in a lab. I have nowhere near enough time (or expertise) to do this kind of work, particularly at the high quality needed for use at Jordan Brittley. So, I do what everyone should do in this situation: I hire someone to use their expertise for me. My experts of choice, however, are not local, so I have to send the film through the mail. How do I mail film for Jordan Brittley? Here’s the step-by-step process along with some things to keep in mind:


How to Ship Film - The Jordan Brittley Blog

Step 1: Choose a Lab

At Jordan Brittley, we work exclusively with Richard Photo Lab in Valencia, CA for all our lab work. They’re the best for a lot of reasons. They get the colors just like we want them, they’re (reasonably) fast, they’re reliable, and they have always done high quality work for us.

Step 2: Choose a Carrier

There are several carriers who can get your film from your business to your lab of choice. We use the United States Postal Service in part because of simplicity and in part because of price. Again, we’ve never had a problem with them, so we’re loyal customers.

Something to keep in mind: shipping can get expensive, so it’s a good idea to shop around. However, make sure you don’t sacrifice reliability to get a cheaper price. There’s no amount of shipping insurance you can buy to make up for what you will lose in profit, reputation, and hair if your film is lost or damaged.

How to Ship Film - The Jordan Brittley Blog

Step 3: Fill out the Paperwork

Your lab will have a form to complete and submit with your film. Here is the form I use for Richard Photo Lab. There’s a lot of information so make sure that you read over it before sending it off.

Step 4: Package the Film and Paper

Once you have selected a lab and a carrier and have completed all the necessary paperwork, you have to package your film. Again, there are several things to keep in mind here. The most important thing is the safety of your film.

I use a small flat-rate box from USPS. I just bought one today, so I remember that they’re $5.95 regardless of how many rolls of film you stuff in there (my personal best is 25 rolls of medium format). Not only are these boxes fairly sturdy, but they come with tracking, insurance (again, nowhere near what you would have to reimburse a client if that-which-cannot-be-mentioned happened) and it ships half-way across the USA in 2 days. Good stuff.

Something to keep in mind: you’re going to be spending a lot of time and potentially money on shipping if you’re shooting film with any frequency. I encourage you to really take the time to find out what works for you in terms of packaging options. I tried several things before finally settling on the small flat-rate box.

How to Ship Film - The Jordan Brittley Blog

Step 5: Send it Off!

Pow! You’re done. Your carrier will have their own policies for pickups and payment, but at this point, you’ve done all you can do. Now the only thing left is to:

Step 6: Chew your nails off in eager anticipation of the greatness that awaits you.

Enjoy your beautifully developed film!

How to Ship Film - The Jordan Brittley Blog

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It can get pretty hot in the midwest and while I am not a huge fan of 100+ temps, it comes with the job when you’re shooting outdoor summer weddings. It’s important to know that your gear is affected by the hot weather and what you can do to extend the life of your gear while in warmer temps. Below are the things that I do during the hot summer months to take care of my gear and make sure it’s ready to go!

How to Take Care of Your Camera Gear in the Heat - The Jordan Brittley Blog

Let your camera warm up

Have you ever arrived at a shoot and pulled out your camera only to realize that your camera was fogging up? It takes about 10 minutes for your gear to adjust to the warmer temperatures, so make sure you plan ahead during these warm summer months!

Use a plastic bag

If you bring your camera from a cool place to a hot place, it’s going to condensate! All of that moisture build up inside your camera isn’t good for it. If you want to be extra cautious (and you always want to be cautious with film), put your gear in a ziploc bag. All of the moisture will build up on the outside of the bag instead of on the outside of your gear!

How to Take Care of Your Camera Gear in the Heat - The Jordan Brittley Blog

Keep your camera in the trunk of your car

It’s better for your gear to slowly transition into different temperatures so I like to keep my gear in the trunk of my car when I’m traveling to a different location (i.e. ceremony, reception). This helps the film to remain a consistent temperature.

Keep your gear in the shade when possible

If you’re shooting film, you know that you need to store the film in a cool, dry place. If you’re shooting in 100 degree weather, you can take care of your film by keeping it in a little bag that sits inside your main bag. If you prefer to shoot with an apron, try to reload and unload your film so that all of the film isn’t in the extreme elements all day long.

It’s rare that a digital camera will shut down during the heat, but it’s possible if the camera gets overheated. If you’re not using the gear, leave it in the shade or have your assistant stand in the shade with the gear. Try to avoid setting it down in the sun at all costs.

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When Isaac and I moved to St Louis, I was starting from scratch. I had no potential clients, a poor brand, and I had no idea where I should begin. It can be hard to grow in a new market (or pick a market to expand in)! Today I am sharing how you can move your photography business to a thriving market!

St Louis MO Wedding at Kuhs Estate and Farm - Jordan Brittley Photography

Select a market where you feel you can add something unique

Give yourself a clearly defined goal. I want to build my photography business in (location) by (time). This looks like (number) of shoots each year with a profit of (dollars).

By giving yourself this measurable goal, you will be able to measure your success. If you haven’t reached your goal by this time, then it’s time to reevaluate the goal. It might be time to brainstorm new ways to grow or it might be time to try a different market.

Give a shoot away in that market

If you want to break into a market, it’s great to work with a team of vendors on an inspiration shoot or even give a shoot away. I would suggest giving just your time away and then giving people the option of purchasing prints or the USB. This isn’t because you need this income, but because it somehow makes the work more valuable if it costs something.

Include Travel Fees

If you are traveling to your ideal market/location for your photography work, be sure to include that in your costs up front. So instead of giving them the price and then adding on travel fees, you want to include the cost of travel in the package from the beginning. Don’t make them even think about travel costs if you are trying to routinely shoot work in that area!

Springfield MO Ms Gilmore

Know that you have something to offer

You must first believe that what you have to offer is valuable before you can convince anyone else of that! If you are traveling into a city routinely for work, don’t keep it a secret! There is an advantage there… you just have to find it!

I love that we don’t live in St Louis anymore. Driving into the city feels like it’s the first time every time. Or maybe it’s just that I try to approach it as if it were new each time. I think this gives me a distinct advantage because I have time in the car to prep for the wedding and do all that previsualization stuff! :)

Connect with local photographers

I love the photographers I’m connected with in St Louis (and need to work on my connections down here in Springfield, MO)! I know a few from a great referral group, a few from Pursuit 31, and a few are past #jbbrides! Connecting with other photographers helped me with pricing (so that I knew what was going on in the market) and it helped me book weddings (because we refer weddings to each other)!

Price yourself competitively

I want to say this first: this does NOT mean that you undercut the photographers you connect with. This means that you have comparable pricing because you understand how the market values the work you’re doing. Be patient while you’re growing your business because if you price yourself too low or too high, it will be hard for you to really grow! Do the research and it will pay off and save you lots of time!

Related: My Pricing Guide

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