A day at The Photo Parlour in Derby


Yesterday my Wife (Hannah) and I went to a Analogue Film Workshop run by The Photo Parlour in Derby.

Dan who runs the photo parlour was a great guy, with a passion for film photography, excellent technical knowledge, and a relaxed and friendly demeanour. All those traits combined meant that learning was quick,easy and fun.

It was a great introduction to the world of film photography, here is how the day went.

We started off with a quick tour around the space, I was impressed with how efficient the use of space was, later I found out Dan had built and designed the interior walls and layout himself. Epic.

The space itself is great, the dark room was plenty big enough to fit 5 people in to all learn and do at the same time, without feeling at all cramped. The main area was set up with tables but also pulls double duty as indoor photo studio, complete with black and white backdrops.

The corridor is set up as a nice gallery with some of John Blakemore’s photos on show, complete with tea and coffee making facilities. With proper coffee too.

Lightroom (Darkroom bench.jpg and 8 others)

(Photos of the facilities at The Photo Parlour, from their website)

Next we sat down with our brews and had a talk through some of the different types of cameras and why we had each come along for the workshop. We then proceeded onto loading up some 35mm film SLR cameras to get going. While I am au fait with photography, working with shutter speed aperture and so on, Hannah was not. Dan was great at tailoring his teaching to different skill levels and in no time at all Hannah was happily using the provided camera to take some photos (which later were just as well exposed as mine).

After we had been for a quick walk around outside to use up our roll of film we proceeded on to military-esque training to learn how to load our film into the developing containers in the pitch black. We all managed this, however it was a bit disconcerting performing complicated tasks in the pitch dark. We then went about pouring various chemicals in and out of the developing containers.

Now the film negative was developed we had the excitement of looking to see if we had exposed our photos properly. In the end we all had more photos than we could choose from. However we had to pick two which we would then have a go at making prints from.


(My contact sheet, showing the photos I had taken)

To help choose easier we produced contact sheets by layering up the negatives with photo paper. Once we had chosen our least favourite of the two favourites, we loaded it into a fancy projecting camera, you play around with the settings, adjust the focus, check it, then move onto producing a test strip. Using card to create different exposure lengths we could then develop the test strips take them outside and see which exposure time was best for the final print.

For this we got to take a ride in the TARDIS like portal door that allows you to leave the dark room without letting light in. (actually, it was more akin to being in a giant washing machine, but that doesn’t sound as cool).

Once we were happy with our exposure times, we went back inside and produced a full sized print. This was the most satisfying step, not only because you had done all the steps right, but also because you got to see the full quality of using a film negative.

Then we got to produce another print all on our own. People have always told me ‘Film is hard’ that might still be the case, not at The Photo Parlour though. The facilities and the teaching from Dan made it really easy, I would really recommend going along to one of their workshops, or just popping along when they are open to have a look around.

If you are local to Derby and enjoy any kind of photography without a doubt you should be at least planning to go to one of their workshops.


(My favourite shot featuring some local graffiti)


(My least favourite favourite shot, to have my first go with)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *