Update: 2x new sponsors announced. Say hello to FreeStyle Photographic and Quiet We’re Dreaming (QWD)

That’s it, after 4 weeks, we’re at the very end of registration for the 7th annual EMULSIVE Santa film and traditional photography gift exchange! TLDR: If you’ve not signed up, you have around 24 hours left to do so.

At the time of writing, we have just over 800 players in over 40 countries participating, alongside 22 24 sponsors, who will all be sending a total of 70 75 extra gifts to lucky players around the world. This is a quick reminder article with some instructions for creating a wish list and sponsor updates.

Here’s what’s covered:

What is EMULSIVE Santa?

It’s the world’s largest annual film/traditional photography gift exchange.

It works just like a normal Secret Santa that you might play with your family, friends, or at work but focused on film and traditional photography.

Everyone’s name goes into a hat and each person is matched randomly with another player, to whom they must send a gift worth at least US$20 (not including shipping).

Each player ends up with a match and gift-giving goes round in an imaginary circle. It’s not a pairing, you are not giving a gift to the person who is buying you one. Imagine this instead:

Event timeline

Registration is open from today, October 1st, 2021 until October 31st, 2021. No exceptions, so please be sure to sign up before midnight in your timezone.

Player matching will be completed over November 1st to 4th, 2021 and players will hopefully receive details of the person you’re matched to send a gift to some time on November 7th.

The deadline for sending gifts out is December 7th at the very latest. That gives you a little over four weeks to get your gift together and about a fortnight to arrive at its destination. As with previous years, given the pressure on our global postal systems, the earlier you shop and ship, the better, please.

Event sponsors

We have 22 sponsors confirmed for this year’s event so far. As with previous years, sponsors commit to creating a set number of gifts each — 70 in total for 2021 at the time of writing.

These gifts are sent to participants randomly as part of the event. Essentially, it means that everyone who plays has a chance to also randomly receive a sponsor gift as well as their “normal gift”.

Here they are:

  • Analogue Wonderland
  • Billingham Bags
  • Carmencita Lab
  • Chroma camera
  • CineStill Film
  • Film Folk
  • Film Washi
  • Freestyle Photo
  • ILFORD Photo
  • Kodak Alaris
  • Kosmo Foto
  • Let’s Explore Magazine
  • Lomography
  • Negative Supply
  • NoColorStudio
  • Parallax Coop
  • Photogenic Supply
  • pixl-latr
  • QWD
  • Shoot Film Co
  • Solarcan
  • Teddington Photographic
  • Ultrafine

Event matching

Please be aware that depending on your event RSVP, this person you are matched to send a gift to may well be in a different country to you.

Please also be aware that if you chose 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 – get around this by inviting your friends – physical and virtual!

Sending and receiving gifts

Let you match know who you are in your card/a note with your gift. Of course, if you’d like to stay anonymous, that is your prerogative but more than ever, it’s about making and maintaining those connections. Some examples from last year’s event:

Don’t let the lack of wrapped gifts bother you! Please still feel free to take a photo of what you’re sending out and post it on social media along with the #EMULSIVEsanta hashtag. You can also tag EMULSIVEfilm on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, as well as EMULSIVEsanta on Twitter. There’s also my Facebook Group, Film Photography Chat, which I highly recommend if you’re on FB.

On receiving gifts

Please, please, please do not open your gift before Christmas Day. When you finally do, take a photo tagging the accounts above and using the #EMULSIVEsanta hashtag.

When Christmas Day finally rolls around, post a picture of your opened gift on social media and if your Santa has let you know who they are, go ahead and tag them.

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.

As normal, any players caught no-showing will be banned from all future events on EMULSIVE and the event sponsors will also be notified.

How to get involved

Event registration is wide open and the window is short. You have until October 31st to register and not a minute more. If you are a past participant, you can expect an email in your inbox already.

If you do not receive an invite in your inbox you will need to complete the form linked below to receive your invitation link. This “double registration” system for new players was introduced back in 2017 in an attempt to reduce the number of no-shows and along with a few other manual checks, it’s helped to reduce the no-show rate to a little over 1% of players since 2019.

After you have signed up for the event there are two things that each and every player absolutely must do. They are:

Sounds simple? It is. The reason for what might be considered an anally retentive request is that signing up for an event like this is simple. Forgetting to send that gift is even more so.

By setting a profile picture you are showing that you are engaged and interested. It takes only a little effort to complete this step but when it comes to being matched, having one 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. Anyone who does not have a profile picture or wish list set by November 1st will be removed from the event without an additional warning.

No exceptions.

Got questions? Send me an email once you’re registered on Elfster and I’ll do my best to help.

It’s over to you

Sign up, get thinking and help bring joy to one of your siblings in this global film photography family of ours.

Thanks for reading,

~ EM

PS. One super important credit: a huge thanks to @aislinn-chuahiock for the cover photo and support in pulling all this together with me. I could not do it without you!

Register for EMULSIVE Santa 2021

Please complete the Google form embedded below (or access it directly here) and grab the event invite from the confirmation page shown after you submit it.

IMPORTANT: This link is unique to you and cannot be used by anyone else. You must use that link to register on Elfster by October 31st. Once registered, please make sure you are a member of the EMULSIVE Secret Santa 2021 gift exchange there.

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.

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.

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  1. I always saw the wish lists as recommendation or a hint to a persons’s interest. When I took part the first time I also did not know how to put a a text wish as Elfster prefers to serve their partner shops or affiliate links – they also got to earn a living. So if somebody has a 10 pack of Portra on their you know they are Portra shooters and can act accordingly based on your budget. It is highly recommended to contact your match and get a bit of a conversation going
    I have contacted mine and got an answer within a day or so. Now I know a bit more and can adjust my parcel a bit.
    Don’t let the wish list put you off.

    Merry Christmas in advance and happy gifting,

  2. I don’t want to be debbie downer but I kind of regret joining! My match has a huge list of items, none of which are under $100. Most are well over $500. It kind of goes against the spirit of the whole thing, and I feel like I’m just letting this person down at this point with my small selection of camera related gear that I’ve put in a box.. of course I’m well over the $20 mimimum, if you had to buy my box at retail price you’d spend over $150 – because I am too lazy to eBay and don’t know a film photographer IRL.
    But come on, do you really all just want 10 packs of portra and leica lenses M glass?? It’s a bit disheartening.

    1. I feel this would have been better served if you’d contacted me via Elfster, the site’s contact form, or even if you’d left your real details so you can see my reply here.

      The wish lists are always and have been wish lists, not shopping lists. They are an indication of what your match shoots, likes, and yes, wants (to a point). I have an Xpan on mine because, who knows, right?

      Elfster also provides you with the option of contacting your match via the platform anonymously: click on their profile and you’ll see two buttons: “Send A Message” and “Ask A Question”. Both default to anonymous.

      Get in touch, ask a question or two and you might surprise yourself by learning more about your match!

      1. Oops, I’ve got one thing in my wish list and it’s a Technorama 617iii. I put it there as a joke – not that I wouldn’t love it but you know. Hope it hasn’t ever offended someone in the past.

    2. Just to add some perspective – I created and added a bunch of items (mostly film stocks) to my wishlist because it was required. Would much prefer something original (maybe a zine?)! I’m sure your match is the same, they’ll be happy with your gift.