Ottawa seeing resurgence in film photography, lab owner says

In this age of digital cameras and Instagram filters, one local film lab owner tells CBC Radio's In Town and Out that Ottawa shutterbugs are increasingly turning to film photography.

'Healthy growth [is happening] in an industry that is supposed to be dead'

Staff at GPC Labworks on Bank Street, one of the few remaining film labs in Ottawa, say film photography is making a comeback. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

In this age of digital cameras and Instagram filters, one local film lab owner says Ottawa residents are resurrecting their passion for film photography.

"We are seeing a considerable resurgence in film. We're up almost 25 per cent over the previous two years," said Rob Haan, owner of GPC Labworks on Bank Street.

"Healthy growth [is happening] in an industry that is supposed to be dead."

The use of film photography and old cameras decreased significantly when people turned to digital photography for its instant results and automatic features.

Haan's lab is one of just a few remaining spots in Ottawa that offer film developing services. 

'You just feel more attached'

Alison Lacasse, a staff member at the lab, says many people appreciate using film because it slows down the process of taking the photo — forcing them to really focus on the lighting, framing and quality of the image. 

"I think you just feel more attached to those images, and it actually feels like you actually made something," she told CBC Radio's In Town and Out. 

"Because it feels like you put more work into it than when you just clip the button and everything can be done for you within the camera."

While many digital cameras and smart phones offer filters that make images seem like they've been shot on film, true film photography can't be emulated, Lacasse said. 

A look into the past 

Lacasse said many people enjoy the moments anticipating how the film will turn out. Sometimes, she added, they'll share their frustration with the lab's employees when their images fail to turn out properly.

"A lot of young people they really don't understand the concept of film," she said. "It's just a learning process."

People from all walks of life come into the shop to develop photos, said Haan: artists, students taking courses, even folks who just happened to find a roll of film in an old camera.

Printing off those images, Haan said, can be "very satistying."

"You take the old film out for them, and we develop it — and they've got pictures of long-dead relatives."

GPC Labworks is one of the last remaining film developing labs in the city. (Giacomo Panico/CBC )