Film Photography

What’s on your film tails?

With my mechanical 35mm cameras I can shoot every frame, including 0 and sometimes even 00. It makes my inner skinflint happy to get 37 or 38 images on a 36-exposure roll.

Frequently the first image includes the exposed film tail. I usually burn that frame off without composing or focusing. But sometimes even that photo turns out to be interesting — and other times I don’t realize I’m not beyond the tail when I start shooting for real.

Coffee mug at the sink

With a rare idle hour recently I looked for interesting tail images. Unsurprisingly, most of them were crap. But here are some that aren’t, not entirely, anyway. Above: my coffee mug at the edge of my kitchen sink. Below: eggs in the refrigerator door. These may not be the most gripping subjects of all time, but I still find the incomplete images to have some appeal.


Most of my interesting tail photos are from around the house. It’s not surprising: that’s where I usually am when I load my film! But once in a while I start a second roll while out and get a tail photo from wherever I am.

Chevrolet sign

Here are more. Click any of them to see them larger.

What’s on your film tails?

Get more of my photography in your inbox or reader! Click here to subscribe.