In our Darkroom/Lab series, we're talking to individuals from around the globe who decided to turn their passion for film photography into a service or business. Today, we're talking to the founders of Leeds-based film processing hub Take It Easy who launched the lab just before Covid hit.
Welcome to the Lomography Magazine, please introduce yourself/selves.
Hey! we are Joe, Liam, and Nick and we're the founders of Take it Easy lab in Leeds!
Tell us what made you want to set up a film processing lab in the heart of Leeds?
We are all keen analogue photographers and felt like there was potential for a community-based lab in the city. We had seen others popping up - like Gulabi in Glasgow and Photo Parlour in Nottingham. Seeing these other independent labs thriving and being a hub for the film community was really inspiring and we felt like this would be a great opportunity to set something up local to us.
You previously worked in a lab 10 years ago and returned again in 2020, do you think a lot has changed in that time in terms of how film photography is used and perceived?
The biggest change in film photography has been a growth in its resurgence. I think that when we were doing the lab the first time around, the reignited interest in film after the digital boom was only just beginning. Nowadays there is a thriving analogue community on social media - particularly Instagram and YouTube. The film has become a fairly healthy niche because of this, which has allowed it to grow and stay alive.
What place do you think film photography will have in the industry as a whole in 10 years' time?
I really hope that in 10 years we'll be in a similar if not better position to the one we are in now. With companies like Lomography and Kodak releasing new emulsions and actually supporting the film community. The worry is that it becomes more expensive and that puts interested people off getting started in shooting film - fingers crossed that doesn't happen!
What's the weirdest roll of film you've had to develop?
It's a difficult question to answer and be completely respectful of our customer's privacy, haha! I think the most usual requests we get are films that have been accidentally put through washing machines (don't do this) or films that are so old and crusty they're basically fossilized. The weirdest we've successfully developed is maybe some old 1960's Kodak Kodacolor from the early 1960s. We've had a few rolls of this but generally, nothing comes out because of the age and how it's been stored, however, this one revealed some pretty interesting images of Rotherham and street scenes, quite amazing to see some images that have been waiting so long to reveal themselves!
From your experience what do you think are the top 3 most popular films people shoot with?
Probably – Portra 400, Kodak Gold 200, and Fuji Superia Plus 400.
What does the future hold for the Take It Easy?
At the moment we're about to acquire another C41 developer and another Noritsu scanner to keep up with demand and keep our turnaround times as low as possible. So the immediate future hopefully holds a shorter wait for our customers before they can get their scans back. After this, once lockdown is officially over, we're looking to start opening up the space to customers so people can drop their films off in person. The most exciting thing for us is being able to start holding events - we want to do talks at the space, run workshops in the evenings and at weekends, and also host photo walks where you can return to the lab and develop/scan your own film. Hopefully, this will be something we can do sooner rather than later!