Come one, come all. Lomography has partners all over the world to help serve your analogue needs. If you're from Belgium then it's your lucky day! We're featuring our Brussels-based stockists Cole and Raph of Mori Film Lab in today's installment of Lomography Partners.
Can you introduce yourself to the Lomography community?
Hi, we’re Cole and Raph. Owners of Mori Film Lab. We’re childhood friends that decided to open a new film lab here in Brussels.
After working for a couple of years at FilmNeverDie in Melbourne, we decided to head back home to Belgium and bring back some of the things we learned along the way. With Mori Film Lab, we are trying to make film photography and quality development accessible to all. Our lab is also really focused on community. We want to create a sense of cohesion around film photography in Brussels. Whether you are a beginner wanting to learn or a pro looking for good quality development, we’re here to help you out!
What does analogue mean to you?
Analogue for us is the joy of a physical medium and a slow process, either in film or vinyl. We love the tactile nature of loading a film camera or developing tank. There is something special about analogue things that makes them more meaningful. Analogue photography becomes more about the experience, the whole process rather than just the outcome. Having a ritual and limitations makes the end product a lot more meaningful. Just like going to the cinema vs turning on Netflix or putting on a vinyl record and having to listen through a whole album versus skipping through songs on Spotify.
What does Lomography mean to you?
Lomography actually has a special place in our hearts. I think that like a lot of people, Lomography is what introduced us to film photography in the early 2010s. Cole’s aunt Liana used to manage the Lomography store in London. We used to love trying out the cameras when we would visit in the summer. Looking back on it, Cole used to shoot his Nikon at f/8 all the time, neither of us really knew what we were doing, and hanging around at the Lomo store taught us a lot.
Why do you choose to work with Lomography?
We firmly believe Lomography has played a huge part in the revival of film photography. We enjoy how Lomo always comes up with new and different things. It’s nice to see a big player in the film photo industry who keeps pushing the boundaries.
What is your favorite Lomography product and why?
It 100% has to be LomoChrome Purple. It’s a very unique film and when properly scanned is the closest you can get to films like Aerochrome while being C-41. We’ve seen a lot of amazing pictures shot on LomoChrome Purple and I personally love using it for landscapes. The Lomo LC-A+ has to be a close second though, we love how pocketable and fun they are!
Are you doing any creative projects right now in the store or personally? Please tell us more about them.
We are! We’re actually building a community darkroom as an extension to the lab! The darkroom is designed to allow for both color and black and white printing and will give our customers the ability to print completely independently. Community is key for us, and the new space we’re building will also allow us to hold more frequent developing and printing classes, and perhaps other workshops in the future!
Many people realize that making a photograph doesn't end when you fire the shutter. We’re noticing more and more people being drawn to the darkroom to learn how to print their pictures.
Good quality developing is the best, and getting high-res scans sent straight to your email is even better, but no matter how good the scans are, holding your physical photo is a world away from seeing it on a screen. There's something magical about holding a photograph that you made from start to finish and we want to share that feeling with others.
What does the future of analogue photography look like to you? How will this impact your store in the next ten years?
It’s a bit hard to say. I really believe that we need to focus on the local film community for film photography to thrive. At the end of the day, it’s only by buying, shooting, and processing film that we can help sustain the industry.
To make film photography sustainable, access to quality gear is also important. One of the main reasons people give up is because of faulty cameras bought from dodgy sellers. In the future, quality gear must be more available. This is one thing we really focus on. That is why we work with real technicians and love companies like Kamerastore that are trying to make camera testing more available.
As for us personally, we hope that in ten years the lab and store are still kicking hopefully we're running with scanners that are not dependent on Windows XP software. We are also hoping that by then we’ll have a bigger team that will allow us to focus on giving more courses and organize film photography-related events.
What hardship did your shop/lab have to face during the lockdowns and what kept you going through these hard times?
I think the lockdown helped us more than it hurt us. We opened during the second lockdown here in Belgium, it was a bit of a bummer as we had to cancel our opening party, but on the other hand, it gave us a lot more time to improve our lab system and fix issues we couldn’t have anticipated, all while still being able to receive orders.
People were still shooting a lot, and we even saw a new wave of photographers that started shooting during the pandemic. We saw a lot of the creative things people came up with during these times. We later organized an exhibition with pictures taken by our customers during the lockdowns and were pleasantly surprised by the amount of positive feedback we received.
What's the most annoying thing about running an analogue lab?
The old scanners. We use a very high-tech virtual system for our scanners that’s amazing and super fast when it works well but is a pain in the butt to troubleshoot when something goes wrong.
What's your favorite memory from the lab so far?
Probably all the positive feedback we received after opening up. We really have no idea what to expect and people were overwhelmingly supportive and so happy about the developing and scanning quality. It really made us feel we’re doing things right and motived us even more.
What's the weirdest thing you have received when developing films?
We had one customer bringing in film that her grandad shot in colonial Africa some 60 years ago and let’s say she learned some things about her granddad she did not expect aha!
What would you do if you didn’t run a photo lab?
Raph: I’d probably still be in Australia doing barista work or traveling somewhere else taking pictures.
Cole: Cry or maybe work at a photo lab?
Official Name: Mori Film Lab
Began Accepting Film for Developing: 2020
Address: Rue du Croissant 66B, 1190 Forest, Belgium
Services offered: 35 mm, 120, C41, and B&W film developing, developing classes, film, gear, and camera sales
Film lab staff: 3
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