How to Pick the Photo Lab to Process Your Films
As a film photographer, one of your partners is a photo lab. You need their help in film developing to process your negatives and print the images so you can see your vision on the photo paper. Unless you have your own darkroom, with all the fancy tools and chemicals, and loads of time to prepare the negatives, your partnership with a photo lab is crucial.
Your chosen company will have a direct impact on the quality of photos that you produce. You can bring your rolls of film to several companies, and the outcomes will be varied. With all the photo processing companies out there, you may be overwhelmed who to pick. How do you find the perfect photo lab partners that can work well with you? Consider the following tips below to help you select a photo lab to process your films.
Do Your Due Diligence
If you want to find the best partner, you must be willing to research. Take a look at their work by examining their output. Most companies have an Instagram profile, so be sure to check out their feed.
Compare and contrast the work output of several labs. You will undoubtedly find subtle differences. Moreover, check to see who else they work with. Is it anyone you know? Ask for feedback, check online reviews, and read testimonials.
Conduct a Short Interview
Most people usually skip this part, but it is important to interview your prospective lab to find out more about how they work. It is easy to pick up the phone and conduct a short phone interview. If the photo lab has an office nearby, you can also drop by for a quick visit. Even communicating via email will do.
Find out what their specialties and policies are and how you can leverage those. The important thing is to ask questions then see how the staff replies. From this step, you can glean what kind of people work in the lab. Use this step to gauge if you have a rapport with the company.
Relay Your Preferences
Photo labs are staffed with busy people who have to work on a lot of projects. Since they do not have the power to read minds, you must tell them what you want. Make specific notes in your job order about your film processing.
It is vital to relay your preferences, so they can give you what you want. If you want your film roll to come out looking a certain way, provide detailed instructions to get the results you like.
Find One That Keeps Communications Open
If the final output doesn’t meet your expectations, communicate with your lab instead of just ranting online. This film developing is a lot more tricky and sensitive than digital photography, so you want a partner that will readily give you feedback.
If your final scans come back and you are disappointed, you need a photo lab that you can call right away for comments. A good lab will welcome you, pull negatives, and help you troubleshoot. It could be en exposure issue or a scanning issue. Whatever it may be, a trustworthy collaborator will help you figure things out.
A good photo lab will be a partner in your growth. They understand that both of you are interdependent. They treat you well because you are partners in this creative process. You have a symbiotic relationship that helps each other flourish. Most of all, a good photo lab will help you hone your art.