Do I want my film negatives back? Should I care about them?
After you receive your scans, many film fans will want to know what to do with your dropped-off negative scans.
What are Negatives?
Film photography negatives are strips or sheets of film that contain photographic images in a reversed form. Simply put, your negatives are the film inside your canister containing all your photos. They are developed, hung, and then scanned as a positive image.
What are Nevatiges used for?
Darkroom Printing: One of the benefits of saving your film negatives is to turn them into darkroom prints. In the darkroom, the negative is placed in an enlarger via a film carrier and projected onto a light-sensitive paper for a select amount of time to make an image. One of the benefits of having your negatives cut is that it is much easier to fit them into the film carrier and then place them into the enlarger.
Rescanning: When most people think of rescanning, they think of getting terrible scans and needing to have the scans redone out of necessity. While, unfortunately, this is sometimes the case, one factor that is less considered is a style change. Over time, the kinds of photos you take and how you want those photos to look can change. You might find yourself developing a specific style of picture-making. Having your negatives means you can rescan to have a consistent look with your photos.
Learning about your film: All the information about your shots is stored in the negative. From your film negative, you can tell if the film was underexposed or overexposed, how it was developed, how that negative will translate as a positive, any issues with the film you used, and any issues you may have with your camera. This is an invaluable resource in an artistic practice with a massive learning curve and prone to many errors. You can use the film negative to track issues and progress as you continue to shoot film.
Your lab of choice will almost always tell you about their negative policy, i.e., how long they'll store the negatives if they do cut negative storage, uncut negative storage, or both, and whether or not you want to keep the negatives. Decide beforehand if you wish to have your negatives back and how you want them stored to meet your needs.