A new hub for film photography has opened in Amherst. Photo Retro has two film photography darkrooms, a large format photography studio, a photo gallery and sales of film photography supplies.
The center grew from Pictoriographica, a dry plate photography business founded in 2017 by Jason Lane, an optical engineer who designs lenses for the aerospace and defense sector. Lane and co-owner Max Affleck, a mechanical engineer, decided to open the center because there’s nothing like it in southern New Hampshire or in the region.
“We opened this center because this area needs a place dedicated to film photography,” Lane said.
Despite the dominance of digital photography, Lane believes that there’s plenty of room for various kinds of film photography and other alternative photographic processes.
“Film wasn’t replaced by digital, it’s another medium, like oil paint,” he said. “This place is for someone who wants to explore shooting film, who’s excited about shooting film. Film photography has seen a resurgence of interest over the past few years, and the center will cater to that growing demand.
Up front, near the darkrooms and the coffee pot, the center sells 35mm, medium format and 4x5 film supplies. The dry plate manufacturing side of the business is elsewhere at the center.
The two darkrooms have everything a film photographer needs to develop color and black and white film and print the images — three enlargers in each darkroom, safelights, sinks, washing and drying facilities. Each darkroom has an enlarger that can be used for large format film, the others are for 35 millimeter and medium format film.
The darkrooms will be open to the public by appointment or walk-in; those who want to use them often can purchase a membership. There will be a membership discount for students.
The center’s photo studio features special lights and backdrops. Customers who want a unique early-style portrait can schedule it through Photo Retro’s website.
There is also space for a gallery where photographers can exhibit their work.
Lane said that he plans to offer classes in film photography and workshops. People who take the workshops will be able to use the center’s film cameras. Registration is open now on the photoretro.biz website for both darkroom time and classes.
Local photographers who shoot film can drop it off at Photo Retro. Lane has an agreement with a local film processor, Tomorrow’s Studio of Nashua, for film processing and scanning. They can process color and black and white film and scan the negatives if desired.
Photo Retro will be open Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. As the business grows the hours will expand.