Taking it easy with Louise

Five things I’ve learnt working in a film lab

Working in a film lab teaches you all sorts of skills. One day you’ll be learning how to run heaps of film through a developer, the next you’re working out what image you can make out of post to put on instagram. So, when Grain Gurls asked if I would like to write a blog post for them, I racked my brains and came up with five lessons that have stood out for me over my first year working at Take It Easy Film Lab.

Never apologise for your photos!

One of the perks of opening all of the post coming into the lab is getting to read the notes that people send with their orders (and getting first dibs on the sweets!) However, we also regularly read notes from people apologising for the ‘shit’ photos. I’m here to tell you, stop apologising for being an amateur!

We understand that getting film developed can be daunting but a film lab is an inclusive space for everyone in the film community. It doesn’t matter whether you’re just starting out or you’re a pro. Trust me, seeing three rolls of your family pet on film brings us just as much joy as a professional portrait. Although I’m just starting out on my own film photography journey, there are plenty of experienced film photographers at the lab on hand to help out if you want any advice. You can also check out our photography workshops!

Ditch the disposables

As in all industries right now, sustainability is something that we should all be striving for. We’re always looking for ways to improve our sustainability credentials but one way that you can make a difference is by upgrading from a disposable.There’s no denying that a disposable camera can be great fun from time to time, but if you’re taking photos on a regular basis, then ditch the disposable and pick up a point and shoot. If you do a bit of searching you can pick up something decent cheaply from your local charity shops, Depop, or from independent camera shops such as our friends at West Yorkshire Cameras, or Loaf Cameras.

If you do use a disposable though, then please, please, please remember to put the flash on so that your film doesn’t go to waste!

Not all black and white is equal

We get sent hundreds of rolls of black and white a week but not all of them are processed as black and white film. Some film, such as Ilford XP2, is processed in the same way as colour film (C41). This not only means that we can develop it quicker, as it can go through our V50 developer rather than being developed by hand, but it also works out slightly cheaper to get developed.

Yes, you really do see lots of nudity.

When you say that you work at a film lab one of the first questions people ask is if we see anything explicit? The simple answer is yes, we scan everything from slight side boob to sexually explicit content on a daily basis. We’ve even seen inside someone’s head as they underwent brain surgery! It goes without saying that customers' privacy is a priority and all images we process are kept confidential.

Film is thriving (but hard to get hold of)

It’s clear to see from the sheer amount of film that passes through our doors, and from the many thriving film labs, that film is not dead. It’s amazing to see people ditching digital in favour of the analogue world. BUT, as the appetite for film photography grows, film stock levels seem to have dwindled. In fact, we’re not always sure where everyone is getting all their film from that they send in! Hopefully as the film community continues to grow, the supply will catch up with demand. Rest assured, as soon as we get film in you'll all be the first to know.

We'd just like to thank Take It Easy for their continued support with all things Graingurls, they're always super friendly and helpful to us so thanks guys!

More info on this awesome lab can be found here.

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