Come one, come all. Lomography has partners all over the world to help serve your analogue needs. If you're from the USA then it's your lucky day! We're featuring our Albuquerque-based stockist Matt Alexander of Picture Perfect Photo Lab in today's installment of Lomography Partners.
Can you introduce yourself to the Lomography community?
My name is Matt Alexander and I own and operate Picture Perfect Photo Lab in Albuquerque. I started working here when I was 23 years old in 1996 and was finishing getting a fine arts degree at the University of New Mexico. I have now been here for 25 years and I bought the business from my former boss.
What does analogue mean to you?
The appeal of analogue photography is the ability to create a mystery every time you take a picture. The anticipation of realizing what you have captured can be where the magic lives.
What does Lomography mean to you?
Lomography for me is about experimentation. Embrace happy accidents. Break the rules.
Why do you choose to work with Lomography?
Lomography is the only company that celebrates the art of photography in its products. Yes, I sell Kodak, Ilford, and Fuji films, however, their model of creativity is not as unique or as inspiring as Lomography. In my experience, people want to explore this medium in new and exciting ways.
What is your favorite Lomography product and why?
The Sprocket Rocket camera has been the most rewarding camera I own. I have been taking pictures since 2014 with my first Sprocket Rocket camera and I love the panoramic shots and the always unexpected results I end up with. Forgetting to advance the film has often produced unexpected gems that I am proud to have been able to produce.
I have to say that the collaboration that Lomography did with the White Stripes was pretty darn impressive as well. I received the "Meg" Diana kit with the ring flash and the pinhole lens first back in 2004, I think. More recently, I acquired the "Jack" Holga camera a couple of years ago with the very nice fisheye lens. The distinctive red and white design, the packaging artwork, and extra peppermint logo gels were fantastic!
Are you doing any creative projects right now in the shop or personally? Please tell us more about them.
Yes! I am obsessed with 110 photography lately. I have used many vintage 110 cameras with Lomography 110 film (I think you manufacture the only new 110 films available). I have recently been shooting the Baby Diana with mostly Lomochrome Purple, Metropolis, and Tiger films. I have been working on a series of small businesses here in New Mexico. It's a super simple concept—just recording how these businesses' curb appeal looks to a new customer. I am interested in how these businesses communicate visually to attract business.
What does the future of analogue photography look like to you? How will this impact your store in the next ten years?
I am continuously surprised and excited about the growth of analogue photography. I love seeing young people excited about experiencing analogue picture-making as well older customers revisiting how to slow down, compose, and make every exposure count. Everyone still takes digital snaps with their phone, but those images are disposable and can sometimes lose their connection to the art of seeing and capturing. I think people value the tactile nature of holding something physical and real that can help unlock their creativity.
What difficulties did your lab have to face during the lockdowns and what kept you going through these hard times?
Our state mandated that "non-essential businesses" had to close back on March 18th of 2020. I was determined to keep the chemistry in my film machines and printer from going bad due to a lack of fresh replenishers. I stated on our Instagram that I would run film and prints every Tuesday and Friday behind closed doors and encouraged our customers to use the "night drop/ mail slot" to submit their rolls.
I was pleasantly surprised that so many people kept us going and after a few weeks I was working every day at the shop developing, scanning, printing work, and communicating by telephone, emails, and Instagram. I have to thank our film community here in Albuquerque, and everyone who lives here in New Mexico. I am really lucky to have a customer base that supports my business. Photography is multi-faceted in the fact that it is a creative outlet as well as a way to preserve memories. If we don't have our memories, we don't have much.
What's the most annoying thing about running an analogue lab?
The fact that Fuji and Noritsu no longer support or service film processor equipment. The used market is getting pricey.
What's your favorite memory from the lab so far?
Probably being fortunate enough to become the boss at age 39. So many cool memories over 25 years though. I really like seeing people inspired and excited when "the shot" turns out.
What's the weirdest thing you have received when developing films?
A whole roll devoted to insane fungus growth on some dude's feet.
What would you do if you didn’t run a photo lab?
Work at a silkscreen printing shop.
Official Name: Picture Perfect Photo Lab
Began Accepting Film for Developing: 1984
Address: 2400 Juan Tabo Blvd NE # A, Albuquerque, NM 87112
Services offered: 35 mm, 120, 110, 126, 127, C41, B&W, cross-process E6 film, printing, and scanning
Film lab staff: 7
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