View Full Version : Chosing sensitive material: new priorities?

domenico Foschi
28-Aug-2004, 11:51
The future demise of Ilford came to me as completely unexpected, and yesterday i found myself thinking of choosing a new paper , but the prerequisits where no more paper characteristics, but the financial solidity that the company has in the market. This is a rant , a release of frustration, a panick attack, fear for the fruture of photography, the real one. I was discussing this issue with a person yesterday, and seems that the future of photography will soon be its past, when the craftsman used to coat his own paper and plates. I might be going too far with this , but the way i see it is that soon sensitive paper will be very costly, students and young people won't be able to buy it anymore, reducing greatly the reason for the companies left to produce these products. In the area of the aficionados, the "not so aficionados after all", will go digital so that we will be lost and isolated in an ever decreasing number of silver worshipping nuts. How much money a serious amateur will be willing to spend in this creative field already among the more costly for cameras and lenses etc... In the meantime the availability will be decreasing even more..... Forgive me this rant , its object it isn't to be a reasonable one , but just what it is , and primarily to hear the frustration of other people who love this medium and don't want to see it gone . If i could afford it , i would buy a walk in refrigeretor ......

Gem Singer
28-Aug-2004, 12:52
Hi Domenico,

In anticipation of the possibility that Ilford's B&W photo products may soon disappear, I ordered, and just received, a shipment of Multigrade Warmtone paper along with a few boxes of 8X10 HP-5+ film. This is one way to show Ilford that we LF format users are still out here. Perhaps it will serve to convince them that there is a viable market for their LF B&W products, and that they should continue to produce our paper and film. By purchasing these types of items now, all of us would be helping to keep Ilford afloat, at least in the short run.

Perhaps the salvation for us Ilford Multigrade paper and Ilford B&W film enthusiasts is to begin stocking up now. A walk-in freezer is handy, but not really necessary. Any cool, dark storage space will serve the purpose.

Michael and Paula persuaded Kodak to continue making Azo. We can convince Ilford to continue making their fine B&W products, if we give them our support.

John Cook
28-Aug-2004, 13:40
I am not so certain how much the future events of Ilford will be structured by the photographic customer base.

Having foolishly situated my commercial studio here in the Rust Belt, I have had many, many corporate clients go belly-up over the last few decades. While I got stuck for tens of thousands of dollars, the bankers and the MBAís came out just fine. They are all experts at playing the game.

This Ilford mess smells like one of my many Massachusetts area disasters. Having just read the BBC article on their redundancy, I canít help asking myself about the venture capitol boys who took the place over seven years ago. How did they manage to run Ilford into over $71 million in debt? How did they manage to hire twice the labor force required to operate? Or conversely, how do they now expect to operate with only half the staff?

I was just reading through an enormous Dick Blick art supply catalogue which arrived in the noon mail. It suddenly struck me, how can all these manufacturers like Windsor Newton profitably make hundreds and hundreds of products which must sell in obscenely small volume? How many photographers do you know? How many oil painters do you know? What does a box of film cost? What does a tiny tube of oil color cost? Get my point. There is absolutely no reason (that I can see) why a well-run firm cannot manufacture products in small volume and survive quite comfortably.

Based on my past business disasters, my guess is that the fat-cat venture capitalists will wring every last cent out of Ilford and then sell the formulae and machinery to China, which can make their products without being hamstrung by massive old debt, labor unions and environmentalists. We will all continue to have our film, the Chinese will get wealthier and there will be 700 more folks in England on the dole.

Michael Kadillak
28-Aug-2004, 13:46
Good grief. Get a grip on yourself Domenico.

Unless your conversation yesterday was with God himeslf, stay the hell away from anyone that propogates negativity to this aggregious degree. Why it is such that other markets are allowed to compress and realign themselves and LF photographers are in an information vacuum when it comes to the evolvement of this business cycle? Is this the same attitude you would revert to when attempting to show your work to a gallery or a client for the first time? I think not for obvious reasons.

As long as there are sales for a product in quantities that generate revenues albeit lower than in the past but still significant, there will be an enterprising group of business people that will serve this demand. Make no mistake about it. Passionate people with a POSITIVE ATITTUDE like Michael and Paula can move mountains as with Azo. But it takes continuing momentum to keep it that way. If you are not part of the solution, then you become part of the problem. It almost becomes like a self fulling prophecy ie. I told you so.

Attitude is 10% what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it. Why should this be any different?

By all means, if you want to stay in the negative then get the literature on coating paper and plates and get ahead of the curve. I wish you nothing but the very best. But please, keep you attitude to yourself as the younger generation that is just discovering the marvels of LF need to have something to look forward to and those of us that expect good things in the future need them as well.


John Kasaian
28-Aug-2004, 13:54

Don't send flowers to Ilford's funeral before its even gone onto the operating table!

Keep buying film and paper from whoever you choose. Products and suppliers will come and go---they've been doing just that for decades. If Ilford's products keep generating a profit, someone will "pick them up" OTOH if you Ilford-istas symbolically wash your hands of Microphen we'll all have one less supplier to patronize. Hmmm... I wonder if Freestyle or Photo Warehouse will buy up the pieces? They've been selling repackaged Ilford for years so it might be a logical step in a nice direction.

Jorge Gasteazoro
28-Aug-2004, 17:10
J.Cook had it right, they just cut 330 jobs, to leave 400 to operate the plant. Now, either someone was asleep at the wheel and they got way more people than they needed or they plan to work with a squeleton crew......Hopefully their job cuts will work as they think and make the company more attractive for buy out.

Neal Shields
28-Aug-2004, 21:42
I was in an independent camera store today and they have ordered a Fuji Frontier to make prints with. A lot of people don't want to be bothered with home printing and are taking their digital files to the drug store and camera store to be printed. Frontiers use traditional silver based/chemical processed photo paper.

Digital may in fact increase the market for color photo paper and as long as that is the case I suspect there will be plenty of folks making B&W.

As film is basically paper on a clear base, I see no reason to worry about that either.

Unless there is something really odd about making film and paper, 740 people to produce 300 million in sales is just very bad management or a very powerful union, or both.

Andre Noble
29-Aug-2004, 18:01
But for real, there has already been a list of classic films recently discontinued, or in the process of being phased out:

Agfa APX 25, APX 100, Konica Impressa 50, Ilford 220 Format B&W, Kodachrome 25 to name a few.

Tech Pan is now being phased out.

Also, as an expert recently conveyed his experience on the 'Film and Processing' forum on Photonet, that his well frozen slow speed COLOR film has lasted for 20-30 years with very little ill effect.

I don't think it's unreasonable to start stocking a supply of your favorite Kodak and Ilford B&W sheet film, if you can somehow swing it, over the next couple of years.

30-Aug-2004, 05:02
true. stocking up on film will only boost sales. this will benefit both user and manufacturer.

30-Aug-2004, 09:02
i spoke with someone at photowarehouse last week and he said that the trouble ilford is having will most likely effect them. he also suggested that if ilford decides they need to unload film and paper photowarehouse might be one of the places they will go ...

30-Aug-2004, 09:58
YIKES! that should have said " most likely NOT effect them ... "

sorry 'bout that ... !