NOTE: Registration has now closed for the 2017 event.
You can find the latest update for Secret Santa 2017 right here.
Hello and welcome to EMULSIVE Santa 2017! Public registration for this year’s event is now officially open and I’m proud to announce we already have 7 sponsors and 177 players in 29 countries ready and waiting for you to join the fray.
Details follow below but first, here’s what’s covered in this introductory article:

If you’re expecting an image-heavy article, I apologise in advance. This is going to be a wall of text.

A word On EMULSIVE Santa 2017

Last year’s event was a resounding success, with nearly 500 players in nearly 40 countries participating. We saw some amazing demonstrations of generosity and creativity but that said, it wasn’t without its problems: Bad Santas.
2017’s Secret Santa event introduces a number of measures designed at offering better protection against Bad Santas.
One of these measures is a semi-closed registration system which requires players who want to join in this years event to complete the form a little further down this page. Once we have your sign-up request via this form, you will be sent an invite link to the main EMULSIVE Santa 2017 group on Elfster.
With that out of the way, it’s on to the good stuff.


EMULSIVE Secret Santa is all about giving (and receiving) the gift of film photography. It’s not just about Christmas but the timing is pretty spot on.
It’s simple; commit to sending a fellow lover of film photography a gift – with a value of at least US$10 – be it film, a cereal box camera, or perhaps something bigger.
It’s about the act as much as the gift. Take your time, write a card, get creative with wrapping and if you can, throw in a few local sweets.


Last year’s event had a mammoth 13 sponsors on board and whilst it’s not a competition, 2017’s event has gotten off to a roaring start. Here’s a quick rundown of the six starting sponsors for this year’s event:

  • Eastman Kodak Company
  • FILM Ferrania
  • ILFORD photo
  • Kosmo Foto
  • Japan Camera Hunter
  • Solarcan

Details of each sponsor gift will be announced closer to the draw date but I can tell you now that at least one sponsor is already working on chocolate cameras.
They won’t be fully functional but in this case chocolate > film photography.

2017 event timeline

Registration is open from today until Sunday November 19th 2017. The draw to select matches and sponsor prize winners will be made on Monday November 20th 2017.
Once the draw is made, you’ll be matched up with two players:

  • One player to send a gift to (possibly in a different country depending on your RSVP).
  • A DIFFERENT player who will send you a gift.

You will be able to review the profile and wish list of the person you have been matched to send a gift to (you are their Santa), and your Santa will be able to view your profile and wish list.
Please note: you will not be able to take part unless you have registered before Sunday November 19th 2017.
The draw is taking place a week and a half earlier this year and I’m asking that everyone gets their gift sent out by Monday December 4th 2017 at the very latest. That gives your gift approximately three weeks to arrive at its destination

Matching and gifting

Once the draw has been made, take a look at the profile of the person you are playing Santa to, check out their wish list or send them an anonymous message through Elfster before you send the gift by post, courier, carrier pigeon…even personally – whatever works for you. Whoever is matched with you will do the same.
I STRONGLY advise you to use some form of registered post. Trust me, if there’s a problem with the postal system it’s the only way to get anywhere.
Note: Do not simply send promotional items such as your own photo books, mugs and coasters. If you want to send one of your own prints, books, etc., make sure you add something else in the parcel too.
There’s no upper limit on the value of what you decide to send but please make sure that it’s worth at least US$10 and functional. Your gift could be something you’ve had lurking in your freezer, for a while, or brand new. It’s up to you.
All that said, please, please, please, don’t drop ship your minimum-value gift in a cardboard box with the receipt. That’s just shitty.

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IMPORTANT: Don’t be a dick

Apologies for the passive aggressive lead-in but I mean it.
EMULSIVE Santa being arranged in good faith and while you can decide to remain anonymous, your actions reflect on yourself, EMULSIVE and the good name of the film photography community.
In short, this is not a time to rid yourself of broken gear or useless film that you no longer want. If you don’t intend on sending anything, don’t play.
It’s definitely not the time to be a freeloader.
Speaking of which, last year’s game saw several players banned during the registration period and a few more lovely people decided not to send anything or reply to repeated calls for updates via email and social media.
As warned/promised in last year’s introductory article these “no-shows” included Kavin K, Søren H, Stefan S, Matthew G, Said A, Yusra O, Michael C, Elisa S, Lasse T, Chris L.
Congratulations! You’re banned from playing and participating in this and future events organised by EMULSIVE and last year’s sponsors.
Whilst on the subject, a huge, huge thanks to Sarah, Ben, Matt, Gemma, Diz, Steve, Sandeep, Jef, Florian, Lorraine, Aislinn, Paolo, Gustavo and Ahsley for stepping in to fill the blanks and pick up where the above did not.
Thank you so much.

Get involved

I’m not asking for your money. Nor am I asking for you to send any to your match. In fact, this is the last thing you should so.
Here’s the 7-step (5-step) programme:

  • Complete the form at the foot of this page.
  • Receive your Elfster invitation and sign up for an account, adding your real name, your preferred internet handle, or something else.
  • Add your address (SUPER IMPORTANT), details about yourself, a picture, and details of what you want from your Santa using Elfster’s wish list.
  • Wait until the draw and then jump into action.
  • Send your gift.
  • Wait…
  • Receive and share your gift on Twitter tagging @EMULSIVEsanta and

Really, it’s that simple.
Sign up, add some info, wait, send, receive!

Sending your gift

As mentioned above, I’m asking that everyone gets their gifts sent out by Monday December 4th 2017 at the very latest. Christmas time means that postal services will be busy, so the earlier the better. Remember to package responsibly and in the same manner you’d hope to receive something yourself.
If you don’t know what to give…
My best advice would be to check out your match’s wish list first. If it’s a little dry or unrealistic (asking for a Leica doesn’t mean you’ll get one), think about what you’d want to receive and then gift something along those lines.
Remember what it felt like when you first shot the first roll of your now favorite film? Why not send a roll of that, with a note on how you think your match should expose and develop it. This is about sharing some knowledge, as much as it is about being nice and giving something while not knowing what you’ll get in return.
If you’re feeling generous, you can send out whatever tickles your fancy – all I ask is that you don’t lump someone with gear that’s not working.

How you can help

If you run a blog, website, camera store, lab, magazine, etc., feel free to join up both individually as yourself AND that entity.
I’d be delighted if you decided to run a little post about this project and when you get your gift, feel free to write a little something about that, too. The more the merrier, after all.
Some folks asked me last year about entering twice. This is entirely up to you. All you need to do is sign up below with two email address.
Finally, if you get stuck, you can email I’ll try to fix any problems you’re having and kick the right people in the right places if things get bad.

How to register

This form (also embedded below), is one aspect of this year’s enhanced process. Another aspect are some tighter controls on Elfster itself.
Once you have completed the form and have your invitation, there are two things that each and every player absolutely must do. They are:

  • Set a profile picture
  • Complete a wish list

Sounds simple? It is? The reason for what might be considered two anally retentive requests is this:
Signing up for an event where you promise to send something with a minimum value of US$10 is simple. Forgetting to send that gift, even more so.
By setting a profile picture and creating your wish list you are showing that you are engaged and interested. It takes only a little effort to complete these two steps but when it comes to being matched, having both of these in place will give your Santa (the person sending you a gift), confidence that they’re matched with someone who took time out of their day to do it.
In addition, you are saving everyone time.
Your match won’t have to send me an email asking what they should get you. I won’t have to find your profile, have a root around your website or search you out on social media and then get back to them with my suggestions.
You know yourself better than anyone, so please take a moment to tell people what you’d like by adding a wish list.
And that brings me to step three of the enhanced process for 2017.
Anyone…and honestly I mean anyone who does not have a profile picture or wish list set November 19th 2017 will be removed from the event. No exceptions.
I really have to be this strict and if you have any reservations, or feel that this is unfair, I welcome your help in administering the event. Seriously it would be very welcome and this year’s Special Elf Aislinn will welcome the company.
Here’s the registration form:

Once you complete the form you can expect to receive an invitation to the event within 48-72 hours.

Disclaimers and terms

EMULSIVE is not Elfster (the service provider being used for the listing/matching). If you have any qualms about the level of your data protection, then I will have to suggest you bow out and not participate.
We’ve tested out and researched a few service providers along the way and Elfster seemed to come out on top for the functionality they provide and what they do with data provided by their users.
We have no affiliation, or commercial/personal connection with Elfster and you use the service at your own risk. Don’t forget that I’m putting my details on there, too.
Should anything terrible happen (they get hacked, lose your data, etc.), we really can’t take any responsibility. We’re using them in good faith, as much as you are.
Elfster is a public service, so we ask that you don’t invite participants in this event to others you may decide to create without their express consent. We’re sorry but anyone found doing this will be excluded from entry.
Thanks for reading and looking forward to seeing you on board.

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About the author

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Founder, overlord, and editor-in-chief at I may be a benevolent gestalt entity but contrary to increasingly popular belief, I am not an AI.

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  1. I’m trying to enter. Filled the form and registered but then I get this on Elfster:
    Restricted Content
    This page is only visible to a limited number of people. If you think that you should be able to see this page, please contact us at the help center and we will see what’s up.
    Help Center

  2. so what you are saying is that I have now been given a reason to go and buy more cameras and film….but this time I won’t be judged for hoarding because I can send them to someone who will actually appreciate them! SIGNED UP 😉