Come one, come all. Lomography has partners all over the world to help serve your analogue needs. If you're from Canada then it's your lucky day! We're featuring our Toronto-based stockist Claudia Mac of Downtown Camera in today's installment of Lomography Partners.
Can you introduce yourself to the Lomography community?
Our store is named Downtown Camera. We are located in Toronto, Canada and as the name implies, we are located downtown. We have been in the neighborhood and known as the local, friendly, and independent photography store for over 40 years. In April 2019, we moved into our newly renovated space so we can provide a larger selection of photography products and services. Also, to have the room for our new dip-dunk film processors from Germany. We are a mix of old and new, as we have the latest digital gear but also have a large selection of used camera gear and analogue offerings too.
What does analogue mean to you?
Analogue means tactile, real, original, organic. It is not interpreted as digital code but comes from a physical source. Even though it can be copied, it is one of a kind.
What does Lomography mean to you?
By definition, Lomography is an experimental form of photography using film and analogue cameras. But for us, Lomography is a company committed to analogue film.
Why do you choose to work with Lomography?
As one of the last places in our city embracing analogue photography, we look up to Lomography and its creativity. We wish to be a part of that and see analogue photography endure for generations to follow.
What is your favorite Lomography product and why?
Lomochrome Purple. It is a surprise to see the world on a different spectrum.
Are you doing any creative projects right now in the store or personally? Please tell us more about them.
We have recently introduced ECN-2 processing services. In the past few months, we have seen many companies bulk load the film into 35 mm canisters but very few places processing them, especially in Canada. It is tedious to process this film as we must do so by hand and there are extra steps along with sensitivities but we have decided to commit to our resources to do so.
We hope this will give analogue photographers another type of film to enjoy and experiment with. We are also trying to open a cafe in the store. Downtown Camera is like a second home to us. Our tag line is "Where Photography Lives" and we would like to welcome everyone and enjoy a cup of our coffee along with our hospitality. However, there have been difficulties doing so due to Covid-19.
What does the future of analogue photography look like to you? How will this impact your store in the next ten years?
Analogue photography is part of our DNA and our roots. Our founders did not forsake it during the digital revolution as shooting with film was the beginning of their photography journey. They also all felt that a camera store is not complete without a photo lab and decided we would continue to offer film and print processing services as long as we can.
We have been worried there would be no more film or chemistries or machinery to continue this medium. It seems like there will be constant challenges and it will be a fight to continue in the next 10 years but we are committed and will try.
What hardship did your shop/lab have to face during the lockdowns, and what kept you going through these hard times?
We knew everyone's priority was to their health and welfares. We expected our business to be decimated but we had believed this would end if not, then it would end us. Our advantage of being a brick-and-mortar store was taken away when we were locked down so we focused on communicating with our community online.
There were also many challenges to continue business with the limited time, resources, and staff, however, customers were understanding. This mindset helped us to keep going and I would say I'm proud to be a Canadian as our government supported our employees and businesses during this crisis too.
What's the most annoying thing about running an analogue lab?
When a customer points the finger of blame at us without taking the time to understand analogue photography and the process.
What's your favorite memory from the lab so far?
We processed a roll of film for someone who saw for the first time their grandparents who had passed away, lived in another country, and unfortunately could not afford pictures of themselves.
What's the weirdest thing you have received when developing films?
Film covered in oil wrapped up in toilet paper.
What would you do if you didn’t run a photo lab?
Probably run a camera store.
Official Name: Downtown Camera
Began Accepting Film for Developing: 1970
Address: 89 Queen St. E, Toronto, Ontario, M5C 1S1
Services offered: 35 mm, 120, 4x5, 620, 127, 126, 110, APS, 5x7, C41, B&W, E6, hand-developed, ECN-2, film and camera sales
Film lab staff: 6
Want to see your favorite store featured in our magazine? Please send us an email at email@example.com and we will check them out!