The Phoblographer Explains: Why Do You Put Film in the Freezer?

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Essentials Medium Format Beginner (3 of 6)ISO 1001-125 sec at f - 4.0

So why do you put film in the freezer?

Years before digital, one of the ways that photographers saved money on processing and images was to put film in the freezer. Why? Well in short, it slows down the aging process due to the organic chemical properties that create it. Specifically, the gelatin in film is made from animal skin according to an old Kodak documentary. The gelatin is the main component of the protective layers that otherwise expose film to radiation. By slowing down the aging the film can stay at a more steady target performance and won’t end up looking like something that belongs on Instagram.

We asked B&H Photo’s Henry Posner for more insight. He responded by saying that “I was always told frozen film basically cancels the expiration date but I also recall the first time the woman who is now my wife was in my apartment and opened the freezer to get ice for drinks and found nothing but ice cube trays and stacks of Kodak, Fuji & Ilford boxes. Quite the conversations.”

Lomography Magazine goes even further stating that you should keep it in the canisters, and this applies to only 120, 35mm and other negative films. Positive films, like Polaroid, shouldn’t be frozen according to Rangefinder Forum.

But to see more about how film is made, we found two videos from Kodak that we’re sharing after the jump.