This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, Shoot It With Film may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.
We rounded up some amazing film photographers to share their favorite film soup recipes and tips!
If you’re looking for a little creative boost to your film photography, film soup might be just the thing. It’s an experimental film photography technique where you soak a roll of film in different liquids to add fun, crazy colors and effects to your film negatives.
Mix together in boiling water. Let film sit in “soup” for at least 24 hours but up to a week. Rinse film in cold water and let dry for at least a week before developing.
Souping film is such a fun and unique process, and I absolutely love that you never know what you are going to get. When you soup film, the PROCESS of shooting, souping, and developing becomes more than the end result.
It’s not just about picking my camera up and composing a perfect image. It’s not the anticipation of a final image. Nope. It’s the process. The procedure. It’s the way photography should be.
Add tea and lemon to one cup of boiling water. Add film canisters! Cap container and let the film “steep” for 4-6 hours, stirring every 20 min for the first 2 hours. 1 minute cold water rinse after removing film from soak. Then, dry for one week in a container with gel-silica.
I enjoy this recipe for it’s subtlety. Having run the full gamut of mega-destructive soup recipes in the past, I’ve appreciated the flowing pastel colors this soup adds to the film.
I also do most of my soaking post-shooting to prevent damage inside the camera from sticky film and also so I can try to cater the soup towards what I ended up shooting.
The best part of film soup is that there are no rules! I’ve done everything from pickle juice to champagne to a cycle through the dishwasher.
Each has it’s strengths and potential flaws, but if you’re willing to take the risk, the reward can be some truly otherworldly effects produced by a lot of chance and a little faith.
This film soup recipe and the ingredients are my favorite! When I use them I always get different results, but always very interesting! Blue color and pink are popping out, and sometimes I get this quite cool dotted pattern.
Blood Orange Lemonade (Great for drinking and film souping!)
Silica Gel (find on Amazon) – Remove the silica from the packets. It doesn’t dissolve but will reacts with the film. You can also reuse it for other experiments.
Mix the blood orange lemonade, silica gel, and film of your choice with water. Soak for 4 hours or more. Don’t forget to mix it well from time-to-time. Wash film in cold water after souping, and leave it to dry for 1-2 weeks on a shelf.
Depending on how long you soak the film (the longer, the better the results), results vary from water stains spreading throughout the picture, color changes and shifts, and sometimes blue/purple dots.
I tend to dilute everything that is very chemically active in hot water – mainly detergent (household chemicals), soap, orange juice, and tea (that’s how you make tea, right, with hot water 😉 ).
I mainly soup after I finished shooting the roll to not damage the camera. It is also easier for me to decide to soup or not to soup after shooting (if you are in the mood to soup and ready to feel like a mad scientist).
I like how this mix reacts to film and generates green tiny dots on top of the emulsion, and the blueberries gives it a magenta tone on the background. I always try to use Fuji C200 film as it has green dominant color.
Tip: You must overexpose at least 1 stop to get great results. Film soup’s technique destroys the light sensitivity of the film.
We can’t thank all of these amazing photographers enough for sharing their film soup recipes and secrets with us!