Alexia Godinez-Thompson is making film photography more accessible for Howard students through her small business.
Godinez-Thompson is a junior TV/Film major, photography minor from Raleigh, North Carolina, who started to develop her own film last fall, after an intermediate photo class. She already had an interest in film photography, the main factor in choosing her minor, but had not developed it herself before.
Although this hobby started around 11 months ago, in addition to her business, she is a prolific photographer that has been featured at the Arts in Color Gallery and taught a masterclass at the National Museum of African Art. She also serves as the darkroom technician for Howard’s School of Fine Arts.
The photography department’s darkroom at Howard only has the materials to develop black and white film, so, after a semester, she missed shooting color film, which spurred an extensive research process. She then decided to source the chemicals and materials in order to process, develop, and scan her own film.
Godinez-Thompson prides herself on her resourcefulness. “I love doing things on my own and not needing to go somewhere and have to pay somebody to do it when I can just do it myself. That’s probably the most beneficial part for me,” Godinez-Thompson said.
Once she had the resources, Godinez-Thompson’s self-proclaimed “side hustle” happened to come about naturally. Now in a position to develop film on her own, it seemed contradictory to keep it to herself, she wanted to share those skills.
Most film users shoot in color, so the business aspect was born out of convenience. Godinez-Thompson said, “I would tell people that I develop and digitize my own film. They were like, oh my god do you mind doing mine?” Since so many people were requesting her services she decided this could be something useful at Howard.
The majority of her clientele are Howard students, often repeat customers. Through developing their film she gets to deeply connect with Howard’s creative community and becomes an integral part of their process. “I like seeing what moments people choose to capture,” Godinez-Thompson said.
For Godinez-Thomspon, developing film is an opportunity to explore passion through a business venture. She charges lower rates compared to nearby services (around $20 per color roll), providing an affordable option for students. For processing and scanning, two color rolls cost $27 ($15 per roll) and $12 per black and white roll. It takes around 3 hours to develop per roll, so it’s not about the money for her. This hustle is a passion.
The rewarding part of this business is practicing her craft. “It gets me more involved with the process of film and has me recognize and value everything that film is,” said Godinez-Thompson. ”I like to inform people too, people ask me all the time about film, and the process of it’s really fun to talk about it.”
In the future, Godinez-Thompson hopes to open a film store of her own, ideally here in D.C. In an evolution of the current themes of her side hustle, Godinez-Thompson hopes to create a space where people can not only get their film developed but really learn and practice the process. “A lot of people who drop off their film at a film store, they don’t know what’s happening. You’re just like, oh, they’re shipping it off somewhere, and I’ll come back in a week to pick it up,” Godinez-Thompson said.