Lomography Partners: Foto Star of Mexico

Come one, come all. Lomography has partners all over the world to help serve your analogue needs. If you're from Mexico then it's your lucky day! We're featuring our Mexico-based stockist Alfredo Oropeza of Foto Star in today's installment of Lomography Partners.

© Foto Star

Can you introduce yourself to the Lomography community?

Hello there, my name is Alfredo Oropeza, owner of a 65-year-old photo lab/store named Foto Star.

I entered the family business back in January of 2020 and since then I’ve worked in the film renaissance in Mexico. It’s been great. It's also hard but enjoyable. I’m 25 years old and I'm loving film and its experience.

What does analogue mean to you?

Real, human, and authentic.

What does Lomography mean to you?

Modern, futuristic, colorful, innovative, and strong.

When I saw Lomography for the first time, it was in New York. I was buying film and saw the brand, then I researched about the company and it came as such a surprise. For me, Lomography is a brand committed to the analogue world, they share and politely show people this 'world', and most importantly, a reference in the film community.

Why do you choose to work with Lomography?

The variety of the products, the innovation, and the story behind each special edition release. But most of all, because Lomography is an important brand.

What is your favorite Lomography product and why?

Their 35 mm line color film—ISO 100, 400, and 800. But mostly the 800. I’ve shot incredible photos with that film and as a store owner, these products sell very well. They’re good products that can compete with other popular brands.

© Foto Star

Are you doing any creative projects right now in the store or personally? Please tell us more about them.

Totally, yeah. TOP SECRET: we’re about to drop a coffee shop right next to our Cholula Store. It’s going to be a coffee shop with a film experience. We want photographers to meet each other—talk, create debates, share, and have a good time.

Also, in our main store in Puebla, we’re about to drop a gallery dedicated to the work of all the people that helped develop it with us. It’s a 200-year-old house so it’ll be pretty cool. Those are the two major projects coming this year and lastly a third store in the works.

What does the future of analogue photography look like to you? How will this impact your store in the next ten years?

Interestingly, Fujifilm in México is being weak. They used to provide only C200 last year, and now, not even that. There are no disposable cameras available and that was a best seller. But now, I see Lomography being a strong number two against Kodak and am happy about that because we’re part of it. Also, the film industry in Mexico is weird. Kodak Alaris is not very present here. There were no available chemicals last year so we switched to Fuji.

Anyway, about two weeks ago, our Noritsu HS1800 suffered and encountered a hiccup and it was a scary bit for me. So I contacted Negative Supply, and I was thinking about telling them that we want to be the first professional lab in Mexico that works with their products and masters the process. So yeah, there will be changes, but good ones. Also, most of our clients are young and probably never experienced shooting with film. It feels like we're growing at a rate of 100% yearly.

© Foto Star

What hardship did your shop/lab have to face during the lockdowns and what kept you going through these difficult times?

Well, face-to-face service went down of course. But when the lockdowns started in Mexico, we launched the website with order pickups in-store and then arranged the shipping to all of Mexico. We partnered with a shipping company to develop a system where people can buy their film development and avail of service online. It doesn’t matter if it’s color or b&w. They can then print a shipping guide, paste it on the box and we receive the packages for development. Our shipping costs for that service are way cheaper than if they do it personally. So actually, work went up.

Quick Questions

What's the most annoying thing about running an analogue lab?

Not enough time, days should be longer, like 48 hours. The We-Transfer service that we use to send the scanned photos had issues with it. We tried Google Drive but it was no good. Maintaining the best quality of the scans can be stressful and I don’t know if you’ve heard this but the worst enemy of a Mexican is another Mexican so, we cannot fail in anything or they’ll post in a Facebook group or something like it and it’ll be a mess. So yeah, the quality process. I think that’ll be it.

What's your favorite memory from the lab so far?

Parties, we do a lot of them with our close customers. Also, seeing the process of growing along with all the mistakes we did. That gave us a huge advantage. There's nothing like good mistakes you can learn from. Oh, and the coffee.

© Foto Star

What's the weirdest thing you have received when developing films?

Probably weird nudes but no, not that weird. Privacy is important.

What would you do if you didn’t run a photo lab?

An architect probably.

Vital Information

Official Name: Foto Star
Began Accepting Film for Developing: 1955
Address: Calle 5 de Mayo 605, Centro, Puebla, Mexico and 3 Norte 209, San Andrés Cholula, Puebla, Mexico
Services offered: 35 mm, 120, 110, Advantix, C-41, B&W, hand-developed, film soup
Film lab staff: 3

Want to see your favorite store featured in our magazine? Please send us an email at wholesaleinquiries@lomography.com and we will check them out!

written by cheeo on 2021-12-21 #people #places #partners #mexico #film-lab #stockists #lomography-partners #foto-star

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