About the Frugal Film Project:

Welcome to the Frugal Film Project!

In January 2019 a group of photographers joined together to start the collective you see here on this site. None of us knew one another and we spanned the globe. The goal of the project was to use a camera that cost less the fifty dollars (including shipping if there was any) and the cheapest locally sourced film we could find. In 2020 some of us continued on and some left the project, and we made a few other changes… but kept the $50 camera price limit.

We committed to using the camera and same film stock for three months, then we could change to another cheap camera if we so choose. The film wasn’t as cheap this time either… but we voted that we all had to shoot the same film for three months. The first quarter of the year everyone is shooting Ilford HP5. The second quarter is Lomo 800, the third is Ektar and the fourth is TriX.

So who are the photographers?

I’m Aragon Etzel from Memphis, TN and I collect old film cameras. I’ll make photos with anything that can hold film. I’ve had an affinity for cheap plastic toy cameras since I built my first TLR from a model kit in 2014. To that end, I’ve decided to use cheap plastic cameras for the 2020 Frugal Film Project. I’ll be using a Holga 120 CFN , an Instamatic X-30 with a Fakmatic 135-126 adapter, and as a backup, my beloved Bakelite Smena Symbol from the mysterious era of the former Soviet Union. If everything works the way I expect, it’ll be HP5/Lomo800 in the Holga and Kodak Tri-X/Ektar in the Kodak Instamatic. For more about me and photos I’ve taken, check out www.aragonseye.com

Matt Melcher is a film photography enthusiast from Norwalk, Iowa, USA (in all it’s suburban glory, but can still see cornfields and wildlife from his house.)  Matt shoots many different cameras, films, and expecially loves expired and odd film stocks as well as alternative processes of developing film. “I’m a humble office worker, happily married to Mrs. Melcher for over 26 years.” Also Matt runs the Box Of Cameras Podcast – the Drunk Uncle of all film photography podcasts.

Dale Rogers is a native Texan living on a small island in Australia still contemplating whether he should say “G’Day Partner” or “Howdy Mate”. He lives with his family in a surf shack alongside wallabies, echidnas and penguins. Dale is a senior manager in the state government and also runs a small adventure based photography workshop and tour business to maintain his sanity. Dale has been shooting as much film as digital for the past two years. He’s an avid collector and user of film cameras. For this project he has chosen to use 4 frugal cameras -  a plastic fantastic no name point n’ shoot, a Fujifilm Cardia Travel Wide, a Canon T70 and a Canon EOS 500. Dale’s island based photography business, Photo Rangers, can be found at http://photorangers.com.au or on all the socials. 

Graham Binns My name is Graham Binns and I’m 38 years old, I have a wife and two children. I run my own business, a construction training centre and I live in Scholes, Yorkshire, England. This is my second year in the Frugal Film Project. Last year was also my first full year shooting film as I was only introduced to shooting film the year before by two very good friends. Last year I used a 1936 Zeiss Ikon Nettar 510/2 folding camera and although I got some lovely results, I also found it frustrating with only 2 shutter speeds.2019 also saw me fall more in love with the whole film photography process, I love using beautiful old cameras and trying out new film and this resulted in me really only using film for the whole year apart from the event. I regularly shoot medium format and I have recently started shooting large format too so for my frugal cameras I wanted to shoot some 35mm. I’ve gone with a selection of three cameras that I will rotate as the project runs through each film. 

Dan Marinelli I’ve been shooting film on and off for 20 years. My work is a bit of a compromise between landscape and street photography. I am more of an anthropologist than a photographer. Despite the fact that you rarely see a person in any of my pictures, traces of humanity are omnipresent.  I enjoy documenting the change and taking little snippets with me. I almost always shoot at eye level with a lens to closely mimic the human experience. A half-frame camera enthusiast, I founded www.halfframeclub.com back in 2016 to function as a community hub for half-frame film photography and we’ve been chugging along quite well since then

Monette Cruz is a night shift nurse in Los Angeles, California, USA. FFP 2019 was such a fun and enriching experience for me, that I immediately signed up when Sherry Christensen proposed to continue the project. It was the first photography group project that I took part in, and I have really enjoyed knowing the other members through our group chat interactions. I learned so much, and loved seeing what other members have shot every month. The cameras I’ll be using this year are the Pentax ME Super with the Pentax-M 50mm f/2, Canon AV-1 with the Canon FD 28mm f/2.8., and Sears KSX Super with the Auto Sears MC 50mm f/1.7.  

Sherry Christensen is from Alberta Canada. She spends her days on the family farm with a camera of some sort nearby, whether on the dash of an old pickup truck or in the cab of a piece of farm equipment… there is always a camera nearby. She took up photography seriously in 2010 with a shiny red Nikon. Things progressed until she picked up a not so shiny Nikon FE in 2016, which she had bought for the lenses, but thought maybe she should learn how to use. After that first roll of film, it was an instant attraction! She is also the host of Embrace The Grain Photography Podcast.

Nelson Mullis  started learning photography a few years ago using vintage lenses on a mirrorless camera, a great way to learn how exposure works.  Collecting various lenses from thrift stores and eBay, I occasionally picked up a film camera with a lens I wanted.  One camera was so nice and elegant that I wondered if it worked.  I put a couple rolls through a Minolta XD5, sent them to the Darkroom, and was pleasantly surprised. Soon after I learned developing film is fun, interesting, not that difficult, and inexpensive. He is located in Warner Robins, Georgia, USA.

 Kate Johnson I am a World Traveler, Outdoors Adventurer, Research Scientist and Photographer.  I have been making photographs since childhood; as an adult, mostly documenting field studies as a Geology Student and later as a full time Earth Science Researcher.  My work continued to be largely documentary in style and work related, until a move to Monterey, California in 2000, where I pursued formal studies in B&W photography at Monterey Peninsula College.  After moving to Colorado 12+ years ago, I’ve been doing some serious digital photography as a Satellite Imagery Analyst. OK, so my ‘camera’ is 600 km in outer space.  This satisfies all digital urges so that here on Earth I am 90% film.  My preferred subjects are: Landscapes and Architecture and I makes silver prints in my own home darkroom. 

Marius Voicu, he’s a 32 year old automotive engineer from Bucharest, Romania (EU). Having a goal, small as it is (to shoot 1 roll of 135 or 120 per month), can give you some discipline and create a good habit. Even if you have a photographer’s block, having this deadline makes you go out and shoot, and get out of the creative rut, so it has only benefits. He is active in a few film photography communities on Twitter (@kondor_konami), can be found on Instagram (kondor_konami) and Facebook (Marius Andrei). In his spare time, you can find him out and about, shooting film on the streets of Bucharest, or where ever he is in that moment in time.  

Nick Orloff  For this project, I’ll be shooting with a Voigtlander Vitoret and a Canon Canonet. The Voigtlander is going to be a challenge.  As well as having only zone focusing (which I have almost no experience with), it’s got three shutter speeds, 1/125, 1/60 and 1/30.  This means on a bright Aussie day, it’s going to be more or less useless for ISO 400 film.  Even worse at 800. The Canon is a real find.  I paid ¥500 in the bargain/broken bin of a Tokyo used camera store. For that price (A$6.50 or so), I just had to buy it. I’ve only put one roll through so far, but it focuses fine and seems to shoot at a range of shutter speeds & apertures. I’m expecting to shoot most of my FFP images on this camera. 

Matt Murray I’m a travel, portrait and stock photographer based in Brisbane, Australia. I started shooting film in 1994 with a Pentax Zoom 90 WR, before moving on to photographing Australia, Asia and the UK with a Canon EOS camera and colour transparency film. I bought my first digital camera in 1999, but kept coming back to film. Matt is also the host of the Matt Loves Cameras Podcast.

Sam Warner  I’m 48 years old and live near Dayton Ohio.  In 2017 I decided to devote most of my photographic time to shooting film.  By this time, I had amassed approximately 150 cameras, and had this crazy idea that I wanted to try to shoot as many of them as possible.


2019 Particpants

Matt Jones I was born in to the film era in 1970 in Melbourne Australia. I had always been interested in art and painting took over from photography for me from my late teens until 2011 when I put down the brush and got back in to photography via a mirrorless camera.  I bought a Lubitel from the Ukraine as a “prop” just something I thought looked interesting for people to hold in my digital shots.  A few years later in 2016 I decided to see if film was still available for that Lubitel and haven’t looked back since. Matt is currently residing in Thailand. Matt also retired after 2019.

Rolando Bravo I am 31 years old living in Oklahoma. In 2015 I received an used DSLR for my Birthday, my very first camera ever. I took my camera everywhere and took pictures of everything and everyone. After having my camera stolen I picked up a film camera, that is when I realized that it was probably the best medium to preserve my pictures in negatives and prints. Retired 2019

Dustin Cogsdell a 31 year old Draft Beer Technician located just outside of Atlanta, Georgia, USA. He is also a co-host of the Grainy Dayz Podcast. Dustin retired from the FFP after 2019.

William Lehamn “My friends call me Bill.” He is a 48 year old maintenance technician for a 501c3 that provides affordable housing in Elkhart, Indiana, USA where he lives and works. Bill has been shooting film his entire life, though he didn’t really start using photography as a way to express himself until a few years ago. Bill also retired from the FFP, due to work reasons.

Kevin Dillon I’ve been using film since the 70’s, starting out with a Focal Tele-’Lectro 110 camera, then learning photography, developing and darkroom printing in HS, using a  Yashica GSN rangefinder.  It has been years since I’ve done any processing, so this should be fun! Social media: Flickr: ricoh_shooter  Instagram: ricoh_shooter (not really posting there yet, but I hope to) 

Jason Konopinski I’m a copywriter by trade and work for a small boutique advertising agency here in York, PA, USA called GRIT Marketing Group. I’m also a yoga and meditation teacher at House of Yoga, a donated-based studio (also in York, PA). My analogue photography journey began just over two years ago with a Canon AE-1 Program. I’d categorize myself mostly as a street/documentary-style photographer, but I also enjoy 4×5 urban and “conventional” landscape photography.

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