Not unlike the audiophile who touts the fidelity and authenticity of vinyl records over digital music files, Suraj Bhamra feels the same way about traditional film photography as compared to the digital cameras that now dominate our day-to-day lives. He even speaks like a vinyl enthusiast, talking about "the weight" film photography carries as compared to its digital counterpart. When he's in the dark room, it's not just about the photos but the tactile experience, the sounds, and smells.
It's why he's opened Negative and Print on Third Street. In the back is a full-service photography lab, complete with all of the equipment necessary for developing actual film. He rejects forced air dryers, opting to air dry the photos instead. Up front is an art gallery, where he'll begin hosting photo exhibitions. He may begin accepting submissions as early as October.
Negative and Print isn't anti-technology, however, and offers scanning and cloud storage services in addition to traditional film processing. But developing film is a service not as readily as available as it once was, and Bhamra is happy to help fill in that gap.
"I'm excited," says Bhamra. "I feel like it's what we needed down here. The people that stop by reinforce that. We've filled a niche."
Bhamra is currently wrapping up a PhD in engineering all the while holding a full-time job as an electrical engineer in Warren. But Negative and Print is not just a hobby. He says business has been busy since they began taking orders four months ago. Professionals and amateurs alike have dropped off their film for development. He's met 60-year-olds who have been using film their whole lives and teenagers just getting excited about the craft of film photography.
"I love to shoot film as much as I can. I do it every day. I love to talk about it. I wanted a place where people can come in and do that," says Bhamra. "I just feel like every day we're staring at our phones, our PCs--there's advertising coming in from everywhere. Film is different."
Negative and Print is located at 4219 Third St. in Detroit. It is currently open by appointment only, though a drop box is accessible at all hours of the day.
Writer: MJ Galbraith
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