I’ve had two Instagram reels about film soup go viral, and with the mass amount of views, has also come a LOT of comments.
Many love it, a few hate it, but one comment I get time and time again is that it costs too much. People love to say, with these film prices?!?
It has really made me think about the breakdown of the cost of doing film soup and what makes something worth doing. How does the cost of creating film soup compare to the cost of a “regular” roll of film.
What is Film Soup?
First things first, what is film soup?
Film soup is when you take a roll of film and by using heat, liquid, and/or other ingredients, you essentially “destroy” it by soaking it in those ingredients.
Let me take this moment right away to say do not send film soup to your lab without asking and checking with them first. Most labs don’t take film soup as it can mess up their developing machines. I send my film soup to AGX Lab.
Now, I use quotes on destroy, because I would say it’s up for interpretation. Yes, it will destroy the film in that you’re not going to get straight up scans as you would if you took your film and had it developed normally.
BUT, if you ask me, it’s not so much destroying as it is altering the film. Because the results can be otherworldly and absolutely beautiful.
So now, let’s get down to brass tacks. What does film soup cost?
Cost of Film Soup:
1 roll of film (My fave is Kodak Ultramax, so I’ll go with that price): $10.99
Supplies for Film Soup (Here are a few ingredients for a common film soup recipe.):
Salt (2 tsp): $0.10
Dish Soap (2 oz.): $0.26
Lemon Juice (1 oz.): $0.09
Dried Hibiscus Blooms: Free
Boiling Water: Free
Developing and scanning (Medium sized 35mm scans): $15 +$3 extra for film soup
Cost to mail film (Small flat rate box): $8.55
Total Costs: $37.99 Film Costs (These are the same whether shooting film soup or not): $34.54 Additional Cost for Shooting Film Soup: $3.45
We’re talking less than $4 a roll to do film soup instead of regular film processing. $4.
But What If I Don’t Get Any Usable Images?
I can already hear the skeptics…but what if you get nothing?!?!
Ok, what IF you do get nothing?
First off, in all my rolls of film soup, I’ve only ever had one roll where I was truly disappointed, and even on that roll I still have two images I love.
The very first rolls of film soup I ever did, where I had no idea what I was doing and scared out of my mind, I got images, including a couple of which are some of my favorites.
And on rolls I haven’t gotten as much, I’ve always gotten blank soup images, which is where you only see the effects of the soup.
I’ve used these as layover images and as desktop/phone backgrounds. I’ve even been able to sell some of these images!
Is It Worth It?
So we’re at the final question. What’s it worth?
Is it worth the chance that you might create one of the best images you’ve ever taken? Is it worth the chance that you might produce something that you can only call magic, where the soup swirls so perfectly around your subject?
Is it worth the chance that you get an image and an effect you couldn’t have even dreamed up in Photoshop on your most creative day? Is it worth the time to do something creatively with your hands and raw product when you mix up the soup?
Is it worth the adrenaline of the anticipation of having absolutely know idea what the results will be, but excited to see it anyway?
If you know me, you already know my answer. Yes, it’s worth it.
Even if you’re not comparing apples to apples, we’re looking at a total cost of less than $40 for a chance to make something completely epic and incredibly beautiful.
Shooting film is a luxury for many of us, so I don’t take the cost of it lightly. It’s an expensive venture, regardless of if you soup it or not. But what is the price of art to you? What is the price of creating worth to you? What is the price of pushing past the fear of the unknown to have a little fun?
So now, ask yourself: What is the cost of film soup worth to you?