Tucked away on a busy main road in Bethnal Green, London, is Four Corners, an arts charity that is dedicated to photography. Here you will find a small exhibition space, an office and a fully working photography darkroom with a team of staff who are on a mission to keep this vital, creative space alive in one of the poorests boroughs in London. We teamed up with them and send them a Spocket Rocket, LC-A 120, Petzval 58 Art Lens, a Lomo'Instant Square and a bag of films for Into Focus, a photography programme for Tower Hamlets residents. We talked to project manager Dave Than about the project and the students shared some of the first results with us.
We asked Dave to explain a bit about Four Corners and the benefits of learning about film photography to us.
”Four Corners is an arts charity that believes in film and photography for all. We champion creative expression, education, and empowerment, and have been based in East London for almost 50 years. Into Focus (2019-2023) is an intergenerational photography programme, FREE for Tower Hamlets residents aged 14-25 and over 50. The programme consists of seven 12-week projects, supporting 84 local people to foster positive connection across age groups.”
”As Into Focus is intergenerational, the older participants rekindled their love for the analogue process which they may not have used for many years. And the younger generation experienced the mesmerising chemical development process for the first time. The element of deferred gratification where participants don’t have an immediate image to view provides both uncertainty and excitement when they discover what they have on their film. It’s been amazing to see how many young people have researched the traditional photographic processes and bought film cameras off eBay to engage in analogue photography. At the start of our project, none of the participants had any idea how their learning, print production and eventual exhibition would develop. And it's amazing to see how quickly their skills evolved, how competent they become as self-sufficient printers and the remarkable work they produced for their exhibition.”
Lomography partnered with Four Corners by loaning them a selection of different cameras, films and lenses for the students to try out through some dedicated LomoWalks. They even got to develop some Berlin Kino films in the darkroom. One student, Fin, had this to say about the cameras we sent:
"I put a few rolls through the Sprocket Rocket and a Canon EOS 300 with the 58 mm Petzval, both of which were great fun and their unique rendering inspired something of a flurry of shooting. I like the imperfection, the simultaneous softness and edge you can drag out of film. I also find darkroom printing much more intuitive for perfecting the final product of an image than using editing programs." - Fin
It's so important for charities and organisations such as Four Corners to stay alive as they provide a much-needed platform to give creative opportunites to people from disadvantaged backgrounds. We talked to students Sofia and Yun about shooting with film and the positive impact Four Corners has had on them.
"Four corners really take pride in the analogue world, which is lovely to witness so closely. Film photography is something I took an interest in from an early age because the digital cameras were really expensive for me, so being able to spend time in a darkroom and create my own prints is really exciting. Using analogue cameras allows you to pay more attention to the scene you're capturing and really experiment, removing all forms of preciousness in the moment." - Sofia
"I loved using all the Lomography cameras and the Petzval lens. I learned so much about photography and printing, which I absolutely loved. It was inspiring to meet people who share similar interests as me and express creativity together. I went on YouTube and taught myself how to colour print at Four Corners. I loved printing from Lomo CN 400 and experimented widely with images shot through the Petzval lens. Amazingly, I was offered a part time job colour printing at Labyrinth so unexpectedly, I’m developing a photographic career after studying law at uni." - Yun