Update 2018-11-05: Registration is now closed at 1200+ players in 54 countries but you can and should still make a “Community Causes” nomination or two for this year’s event!

Update 2018-09-03: EMULSIVE Santa 2018 official sponsor and “Community Causes” announcement – GET VOTING!

Update 2018-09-10: Removed embedded Google Form due to issues with some devices (please follow the link to register instead)

Public registration for EMULSIVE Secret Santa 2018, the world’s largest annual film photography gift exchange is now officially open! Over 780 players in nearly 50 countries took part in last year’s event and 2018 is already off to an amazing start, with over 500+ 1000 players in 20 40+ countries on board.

With public registration now open, it’s time to share more information with you, as well as to reiterate the event rules and guidelines. Over the course of the coming months, you’ll be seeing updates about the event, sponsors, gifting and most importantly, details of changes we’re making this year to give back to the community. There’s not much more can say about that last bit right now but what I can tell you is that as a 2018 participant you will have a direct hand in shaping EMULSIVE Santa 2018.

There’s a lot of information covered here, including event rules and guidelines, so please make sure you bookmark this article. If you have any questions, this is the place to come back to before getting in touch.

Here’s what’s covered below…



Industry sponsors and super Santas

Industry sponsors are back for 2018 and so far 13 20 27 have confirmed for this year’s event. The full list is as follows:

Analogue Wonderland, Chroma Camera, Cinestill, Dubble, Film Folk, Foma Bohemia, ILFORD, Intrepid, JCH, Kodak Alaris, Kodak EASTMAN, Kodak Motion, Kosmo Foto, Lomography, Mixam, Parallax Coop, Paterson Photographic, PhotoKlassik International, pixl-latr, Print File, Revolog, Shoot Film Co, Solarcan, Tetenal, Ultrafine and Washi

This year’s sponsors are crucial to the changes I alluded to above, so if you have a business providing analogue photographic equipment or services – big or small, local or international – and would like to find out about becoming a sponsor for this year’s event, please get in touch to have a chat.

EMULSIVE Santa 2017 Redux - Sponsors
EMULSIVE Santa 2017 – 2017 sponsor gifts

A new-ish addition to this year’s event is the concept of Super Santas. I started getting questions from players wanting to send but not receive multiple gifts back in 2016 and in 2017 we created a system where players could do just that without registering multiple accounts.

This system is being extended this year and if you’d like to take part as a Super Santa, please register as normal and then drop me a line via DM on social media or the contact form on this page.

Update 2018-09-03: EMULSIVE Santa 2018 official sponsor announcement



Event format

The EMULSIVE Secret Santa format might be old-hat to established players but for everyone else, the premise couldn’t be simpler:

EMULSIVE Santa a round-robin gift exchange where players give and receive the gift of analogue photography, and make connections with photographers the world over.

You commit to sending a fellow lover of analogue photography a gift with a value of at least US$20: film, a camera, prints, or something else.

All forms of analogue photography gifts are permitted, be it wet/dry plates, instant, or something a little more leftfield. Digital and non-photographic gifts are off the table unless they are in addition to an analogue photography gift.

EMULSIVE Secret Santa is about the thought and effort as much as the gift. You’re not sending a gift to a nameless, faceless individual. The person you’ll be matched with is another photographer just like you, so take your time, write a card or a note, get creative with wrapping, throw in a few local sweets and a few prints if you can.

We’re celebrating photography and community, so throwing a few dusty rolls in a cardboard box isn’t what we’re after here.



Event timeline

We kicked off the event early this year to give players as much time as possible to prepare and send their gifts out. Private preregistration opened on August 1st 2018, and formal public registration is open from now until November 4th 2018.

The draw to select matches and sponsor prize winners will be made on or around November 6th 2018. We’re asking that everyone gets their gift sent out by December 3rd 2017 at the very latest.

That gives your gift approximately three weeks to arrive at its destination.

An expanded timeline will be provided in September’s update.



How player matching works

Once the draw is made, you’ll be matched up with one person to send a gift to and someone else will be matched to send a gift to you. The person you are matched to send a gift to is not the same person who will be sending you a gift.

Hypothetically shrinking the event down to only six players, here’s how the matching works:

EMULSIVE Secret Santa - How it works

Assuming you’re player one, you will be tasked with sending a gift to player two, who will send a gift to player three and so on until player six, who will be sending a gift to you.

It gets a little more complicated with national/international matching preferences, but the main thing to remember is that you are not exchanging gifts with the same person who is sending you a gift: the person you are sending a gift to is different to the person sending you a gift!


International Gifting

When you register for the event you will be asked if you want to send a gift internationally. If you answer yes, the person you are matched to send a gift to may be in a different country to you. Although there’s a chance they may be in a neighbouring country there’s a distinct possibility that they will be on the other side of the world. Please bear this in mind when registering, as it gets very complicated to change things after the draw is made.

By the same measure, if you choose not to ship internationally but are the only person in your country to join the event, you will be matched to send a gift to someone in another country. We’ll try to make those matches as close to you as possible.



Researching, preparing and sending your gift

Lorraine Healy EMULSIVE Santa 2017
Lorraine Healy EMULSIVE Santa 2017

Repeat after me! “It’s not all about the gift, it’s all about how I gift.”


Researching your gift

Each player has a wish list. Once you have been matched up (after November 6th), jump into their wishlist and have a root around. It should provide you with everything you need to know about them.

The system we are using for managing the event (Elfster) also has an anonymous messaging system to help you communicate with your match. Use it to ask your match questions and get more information before you put your gift together.

Matches are anonymous, meaning that the person you are matched to send a gift to will not know who you are unless you tell them.

PROTIP: The most successful pairings in previous years have come from players who use Elfster’s anonymous messages to contact their matches. It’s about building relationships.


Preparing your gift

Once you’ve figured out what you’re going to send, pop some local sweets in, add a card or note, maybe even a print or an instant photo before sending it off. At this point, feel free to let them know who you are in your card, share your social media or other contact details so that they can say thank you.


Sending your gift

For your own safety and sanity, I would recommend you use a registered/tracked postal option when sending your gift. It’ll make life much easier in the event there’s a problem with the mail. Speaking of which…

You might be interested in...

We’re asking that everyone gets their gifts sent out by Monday December 3rd 2018 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 expect to receive something yourself.

If you still don’t know what to give…drop me a line via Elfster DM.



Get involved and spread the word

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 do.

What I do need is your help to spread the word. You can use the  hashtag on social media to talk about it and tag @EMULSIVEfilm pretty much anywhere on the internet.

If you’d like to get the attention of the entire Santa team, please tag @EMULSIVEsanta on Twitter. If you need any help, please send a DM via Elfster after you’ve registered, or via this website/social media if you have not.



IMPORTANT: Don’t be one of those people

EMULSIVE Santa is organised in good faith and while you can decide to remain anonymous, your actions reflect on yourself, EMULSIVE and the good name of the analogue 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 a time to be a freeloader.

Last year’s event saw 15 Bad Santas (around 2% of the total player count). Despite repeated attempts at communication via email, Elfster and social media, these folks have neither gotten back in touch or sent gifts. As a result, they have been banned from participating in this and future events organised by EMULSIVE and last year’s sponsors.

So, congratulations to Baptiste P, Sadie B, Calvin N, Stefan M, Javier S, Lyder N, Anton V, Noelle P, Paul J, Jomel I, Paul P, Thomas D, Sarah M, Kyra K, and Alessandro D for having joined this elite group.

Whilst on the subject, a huge, huge thanks to Adib, Ashley, Gemma, Matthew, Kikie, Brent, Aislinn, Richard, Joshua, Alaric, Bo, James, Paolo, Steve and Neil for stepping in to fill the blanks and pick up where the above did not. Thank you so much.

Any Bad Santas on this year’s event will be similarly dealt with, although I’d honestly prefer not to have to.



A final word

Thank you. It’s because of you that EMULSIVE Secret Santa is what it is. Seeing everyone come together each year really is a highlight for me. So many wonderful relationships have been created through this little event and with your help, 2018 is going to be bigger and better than ever!

The registration form follows below. Thanks for reading and looking forward to seeing you on board.

~ EM


PS. One super important credit: a huge thanks to Aislinn Chuahiock for the cover photo!



The inevitable TLDR

You didn’t read any of that, did you? Fair enough, it’s not exactly light. still, there’s a lot of important stuff up there. Here it is without all of the fluff:

  1. Register using the form below before November 4th 2017, making sure you follow the Elfster invitation link on the final page of the form.
  2. Accept the invitation and sign up for an Elfster account, adding your real name, your preferred internet handle, or something else.
  3. Add your correct address (IMPORTANT), details about yourself, a profile picture, and details of what you want from your Santa using Elfster’s wishlist.
  4. Share details about the event on social media, amongst your friends, family or photographers who might be interested in joining.
  5. When you receive your match after November 6th get in touch with them and create a gift, making sure you let your match know how to contact you in a card/note.
  6. Share a picture of your gift on social media, tagging @EMULSIVEsanta on Twitter, @EMULSIVEfilm elsewhere and using the  hashtag.
  7. Send your gift before December 3rd 2018.
  8. Confirm receipt and share a photo on social media…but don’t open your gift before Christmas Day (IMPORTANT!).
  9. Open your gift on Christmas Day and share the love on social media, tagging #EMULSIVEsanta18.



How to register

You will need to complete the form linked below to receive your invitation link for the event at elfster.com.

After you have signed up for the event 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 that signing up for an event where you promise to send something with a minimum value of US$20 is simple. Forgetting to send that gift is 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 an email asking the Santa team what they should get you, and we 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 an important aspect of this year’s event: anyone…and honestly I mean anyone who does not have a profile picture or wishlist set by the November 4th registration deadline will be removed from the event.

No exceptions.

Here’s the registration form



Disclaimers and terms

EMULSIVE is not Elfster (the service provider 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.

“No-show” players will be named and shamed.



Share your knowledge, story or project

The transfer of knowledge across the film photography community is the heart of EMULSIVE. You can add your support by contributing your thoughts, work, experiences and ideas to inspire the hundreds of thousands of people who read these pages each month. Check out the submission guide here.

If you like what you're reading you can also help this passion project by heading over to the EMULSIVE Patreon page and contributing as little as a dollar a month. There's also print and apparel over at Society 6, currently showcasing over two dozen t-shirt designs and over a dozen unique photographs available for purchase.

About the author

Avatar - EM

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

, and please make sure you also check out their website here.

Join the Conversation



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  1. i have a privacy concern and am not really comfortable posting my address online. may i send my address to you and you can then forward it to my match assuming you are aware of who has matched with me? thanks so much.

  2. hi, sorry, i had the same problem as everyone else! i assume i’ll be sent an email link at some point. i’m using chrome on a macbook and i have a pretty heavy-duty antivirus that blocks a lot of popups, maybe that’s why?

  3. Hi, same with me, I have registered and got a blank page. After reading (some of) above comments I will not register again but wait for the confrimation/invitation mail 🙂

    1. Thanks Danny. It’s a real headscratcher. I’m trying to get to the bottom of the issue now. It seems only certain devices/browsers are being affected. Can you tell me what you were using at the time?

    1. I see you, Joe. An email will be going out at the end of the week with an invite link. Bear with me, I’m trying to get to the bottom of this with Google support.

  4. Unfortunately I had the same problem with Elfster as everyone else in the comments. I didn’t want to put myself in the system twice so I’m commenting here instead of trying again.

  5. Hi I filled the registration on my phone and it seems I have the same problem as some.of the guys above it took my to a blank screen and I lost the link to Elfster.

  6. Super stoked for this! But I had a problem once I completed the registration. I saw the link to go to Elfster, but once I clicked on it the screen went blank. I don’t have the link anymore and it didn’t take me anywhere.

      1. I had the same problem as Dylan, but decided to try again to get a new link. You probably have two entries for me now. Sorry about that!

  7. This is awesome! Signed up! I’m having real problem with the wish list though, I’m pretty open to anything, so it’s hard to point to specific products!