Introduction: Custom Film Photography Borders

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Adding borders on your digital pictures is just a click away, but there’s an easy way to create your own border effect with your analog camera.

There are no limitations to the type of borders you can create, and this technique will work on any analog camera. I used the Diana F+ medium format camera, as it has a large exposure area and comes with exposure frames already which are easy to modify. The same method can be applied to 35mm film cameras, the frame will just be a little smaller to match the exposure area.

I made a few different types of borders for my camera and swapped them out between rolls of film. Making your own custom film photography borders is easy. Let's make!

Step 1: 3 Ways to Make Borders

My analogue camera came with plastic frames that fit inside the exposure bay, but it’s not required. If your camera doesn’t come with frames you can make borders fit over the exposure area for your film camera, approximate where needed and trim to fit.

Here's 3 different methods for making custom borders.

Method 1:
I traced the frame boundary on cardstock with a pencil, and then cut out the cardstock. Next, I sketched a 2-3mm (1/8”) interior offset from the frame with pencil and cut out that offset. Using sharp scissors, I shredded a portion of the interior of the cardstock frame. It’s okay if you make mistakes here or if your cuts are messy, it just adds to the effect.

Method 2:
I cut strips of cardstock about 2-3mm (1/8”) wide, then cut along one lengthwise edge using crazy craft scissors (I used a wave pattern). These strips were then taped onto the frame and trimmed to fit inside the camera.

Method 3:
If you aren’t a fan of cutting you can try just tearing a hole in cardstock and fitting that over your exposure plate (no progress shots in this step, see final pictures to see results).

Be creative with your borders and experiment with different materials and methods.

Step 2: Position Border Template

Open your camera and place your custom borders over the exposure area.

You can use tape to secure your boarder in place. Make sure that the border placement does not impede the movement of the film, or scratch the film surface when the film is advanced. The border and frame can touch the film, but there should be no sharp edges to mar the film.

Load film as normal, pull film lead over the exposure area and border template, close up the camera and start taking pictures.

Step 3: Results!

I carried a few border templates with me, along with a few extra rolls of film, and swapped out templates after every roll. When done, have the film developed and processed as normal. The border templates should have prevented light from exposing film in certain areas, creating a dramatic frame for your pictures/

To me, analogue photography is all about anticipation; not knowing what the results are going to look like until you get them back from the developer. These pictures with custom borders, combined with the dreamy pictures the Diana F+ takes, makes for a great combination. Another fun variation of this would be to make border templates from a translucent material, allowing some light to pass, and creating a diffuse border. I'll award a double membership to whomever posts one like that in the comments below.

Have you made your own custom film borders? I want to see it!

Happy making :)

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Lomography Analog Photography Contest

Participated in the
Lomography Analog Photography Contest