How long has Gulabi been around for, how did it all start?
We launched officially in August 2019. Before this we’d done about 6 months or so of work putting together plans and sourcing equipment etc. We met fairly randomly, I (Ben) was working in a cafe and Chris came in, he had a Leica on his shoulder and I struck up a conversation. Now we have to spend all our time together.
What services do you guys offer and what equipment do you use?
We offer film development, and scanning…and that’s about it! We use a Fuji FP363 minilab for all colour processing and a Jobo ATL1000 for black and white. For scanning we have a Fuji Frontier SP3000 and 3 (soon to be 4) SP500s. For fine art scans we have an Imacon Flextight Precision II. We have a partnership with Gelatin Print for bespoke darkroom prints and for giclee printing.
Can you tell us about the team @ Gulabi?
Well it’s just the two of us! Ben is from Glasgow and spent a long time making music videos, ending up getting very Into shooting 16mm film which led to an increased interest in shooting stills on film. Chris is from Melbourne, he moved here 3 years ago. He’s been taking photos since his mid-teens, and has been shooting film since he was about 18. He’s quit his career in analytic chemistry to start the lab!
What are the highlights of running a lab?
Being your own boss and being able to play whatever music you want as loud as you want in the lab. Learning an incredible amount in what feels like a very small amount of time, being able to shoot as much film as you want is also a pretty massive bonus! It’s wonderful and terrifying learning a lot on the job, but it’s very rewarding.
What’s the film community/scene like in Glasgow and do you know of any groups someone can join if they’re local and looking to get into film?
Yeah there’s a bunch of different things! Streetlevel Photoworks is the large darkroom and gallery space here — it works on a membership model, and the people there are fantastic. Notes is a quarterly photographic journal. There are a few wee street photography collectives, and loose groups of photographers but not anything super organised that we know of.
I spent some time in Glasgow and it’s such an amazing city filled with friendly people and lots of opportunities for street photography but also you’re situated not far from some incredible landscapes so what do you prefer, street or landscapes..and why?
Ben – I prefer the city, the people and textures of the city are far easier to mould to the type of photography I make, sometimes the wilderness (as beautiful as it is!) can seem so vast it’s hard for me to focus on an individual subject for a photo.
Chris – I don’t like nature, and I don’t like photographing nature; my shoes always get yuck and there is never any coffee or toilets around. Cool rocks are the exception, though. I’m very much a suburban/city kid, I love photographing the public life here, and small details around the city and whatnot.
What’s your personal favourite camera/film stock to shoot?
Ben – I’ve been pushing Kodak XX film to 400 and developing in Microphen. Just started pushing FP4 to 800 as well as I’ve heard the results can be interesting, not settled on a developer for that yet but I think I’ll try Rodinal. I shoot on a Canon P or a Mamiya 6, If I want to point and shoot I use a Nikon L35AF.
Chris – I love love love my trusty Leica M4 (it’s name is Balthasar, or Thazza for short), it goes everywhere with me. I am a big fan of Fujifilm PRO400H (RIP!), Kodak Tri-X and Ilford HP5 (pushed to hell, of course).
Finally, What advice would you guys give to someone looking to get into film?
Start with a point and shoot or something cheap and easy to use, get a feel for it then move onto something with more manual options once you feel you’ve got the hang of it. Watch tutorials on how to load film, I feel like watching YouTube tutorials taught me the foundations of what I know! Sounds corny, but don’t be afraid to fuck up, it’s a very good way to learn. Also recommend just shooting as much as your circumstances allow.