Come one, come all. Lomography has partners all over the world to help serve your analogue needs. If you're from Georgia then it's your lucky day. We're featuring our Tbilisi-based stockist Ryan McCarrel of Magnolia Film Lab in today's installment of Lomography Partners.
Can you introduce yourself to the Lomography community?
Magnolia Film Lab is a new kind of film lab for a new generation of film photographers. We decided we didn't want to be your grandpa's camera store (not that we don't love grandpa!) and are focused on helping grow our community of young and active film photographers in Tbilisi, Georgia—a young, vibrant, Eastern European capital. We spend countless hours helping people new to film load their first roll in their camera and help answer everyone's questions as they get acquainted with our favorite artistic medium.
Our fully-equipped lab has a community darkroom where we run workshops and print for exhibitions in both color and black-and-white. Our digital lab is set up with a Noritsu and Fuji SP3000 to get the most out of people's negatives. We love sharing the work of our talented community which is why we also built an analogue-only gallery that we are slowly filling up with handmade prints from our local artists.
We're super proud to say that after a year of hard work, our local lab has gained some popularity and we are starting to receive film rolls from places as distant as Iceland, Texas, Dubai, and Kuwait. We hope to continue to grow our local community and we also hope to invite film photographers from around the world to join us in Tbilisi for events and workshops throughout the year.
What does analogue mean to you?
It means a momentary break from our digital life—a chance to escape our screens and do something with our hands. At our lab, we take this to the next level by working with our community to take this craft from start to finish—from film roll to fine art print. Carving out a space of materiality in an otherwise digital world gives us a sense of pride and is incredibly enjoyable. Having a chance to create a unique piece of art without requiring a computer or digital intervention gives us room to feel fully in the moment. It's this handcrafted materiality that draws us into every frame. With every click of the shutter and flap of the mirror, we feel more real—it's not an overstatement to say that analogue for us is some kind of existential experience.
What does Lomography mean to you?
Lomography holds a special place in our hearts as a company that has stayed true to its roots even when it looked like film was going to die out. Companies like Lomography that chose to stick through the tough times made it possible for labs like ours to spring anew during the film revolution!
Why do you choose to work with Lomography?
Lomography stuck it out during the worst of times for the film community. They were there when the number of film photographers around the world was dwindling and they supported them throughout. We can't think of a better company to work with—a company that shares our values and desire to help the film community grow and thrive.
What is your favorite Lomography product and why?
Probably the Diana Mini 35 mm half-frame and square format camera because it brings another format to 35 mm film and gives you so many creative possibilities. We also absolutely LOVE Lomochrome Purple which gives us a chance to see everyday things in a new light.
Are you doing any creative projects right now in the store or personally? Please tell us more about them.
We are running a program called #WomenWhoPrint to get women more involved in the printmaking process. This is a free program that we run in our community darkroom where we teach women how to make silver gelatin prints from their black-and-white or color negatives. We were inspired to launch the program after reading a white paper from Ilford that said that only 8% of people who regularly print in a darkroom are women. We decided to change that and are happy to note that the program has been a huge success. It was so cool to see a community member recently set up their own darkroom at home and to see how the experience has inspired her to grow as an artist and photographer.
What does the future of analogue photography look like to you? How will this impact your store in the next 10 years?
The future of analogue photography is undoubtedly female. What we mean to say is that for years and years, photography has been more or less an industry that pandered to men. This is changing, and fast. Most new photographers we meet daily are young women who keep challenging this playbook and we couldn't be happier. As this new generation of female film photographers grows into their own artistic force, we will see a wave of new perspectives that can only enrich the medium.
We are already doing our best to challenge traditional male perspectives and to be as inclusive as possible. This means changing the way we think and speaking about photography to be more inclusive to different perspectives and a new younger audience. Analogue photography also looks much more personalized. Revolutions in 3D printing mean that products will become more individualized and customizable. We are running out of cameras like Canon AE1 and Nikons that are breaking after decades of wear and tear. We foresee a new generation of young companies like Lomography that will find a niche in the film community—people who can help make handmade and customized products for everyone to enjoy.
What hardship did your shop/lab have to face during the lockdowns and what kept you going through these hard times?
In some ways, COVID19 inspired people to get more creative. We may look back on this very difficult period and find a silver lining in that some people were fortunate enough to have more time to chase down creative pursuits. At the same time, the lockdowns have been incredibly difficult in terms of preventing us from pursuing our mission which is focused on helping people new to film photography learn about the medium.
Originally we had planned on having almost daily workshops with local photographers and photographers from around the world. The pandemic obviously put a halt to these plans. The good news is that the film photography community is amazing and many photographers were willing to join us for Instagram Live sessions and other new ways of connecting. But as people who really do love the analogue lifestyle, we can't wait for things to reopen and for our store to get a bit closer to our community again.
What's the most annoying thing about running an analogue lab?
Old scanners running on 20-year-old software. Trying to keep these lumbering beasts moving is a job in of itself.
What's your favorite memory from the lab so far?
Definitely our WomenWhoPrints workshops or possibly receiving our first international order from Iceland!
What's the weirdest thing you have received when developing films?
Let's just say that people might not totally understand that we can see their photos when we are scanning them.
What would you do if you didn’t run a photo lab?
Spend more time taking photos!
Official Name: Magnolia Film Lab
Began Accepting Film for Developing: 2019
Address: 8 Egnate Ninoshvili St., Tbilisi, 0102, Georgia
Services offered: 35 mm, 120, 4x5, Ultralarge direct positive, C41, B&W, E6, hand developing, scanning, printing, camera, and film sales
Film lab staff: 8
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