You’re Invited! Glasgow Independent Film Lab, Gulabi’s 3rd Birthday Party

By Molly Kate

Glasgow’s independent film lab, Gulabi, is having a 3rd birthday party on August 26th and you’re invited! There will be a customer photography showcase, music, pizza, and a fundraiser.

The party goes from 6pm – 8:30pm and is located at The Deep End, 21 Nithsdale Street G41 2PZ. Fundraiser proceeds will go to the Govanhill branch of Living Rent Glasgow, Scotland’s Tenant Union.

Gelatin Print, a darkroom in Glasgow which offers bespoke silver gelatin and giclée prints, is printing around ten images and the rest will be digitally projected. Tunes will be from Glasgow stalwarts Fantastic Man and the team at Gulabi will be selling merch too!

Chris, one of the founders of the lab, has been involved with Living Rent on and off since 2018 and believes strongly in their mission to help tenants fight for housing rights.

Gulabi says about the party, “We’ve never actually hosted any event, we were going to have an opening party years ago but Covid saw to that, so it’s nice to finally put something on and bring a bunch of our (very talented) customers together!”

How Gulabi Started

Gulabi was started in August 2019 by friends, Ben and Chris, who had met just a year earlier by one spotting the other’s camera.

“I met Chris in the summer of 2018 — he was a regular at the cafe I worked in and I spotted his Leica and we bonded over our love of analogue photography. By trade, he’s a chemist and had been working in various science labs, but had been a keen film shooter for years. We quickly realised we both had the same idea to start a lab. He’d moved to Glasgow from Melbourne, somewhere with a very rich diversity of film labs so he had much more of an idea of how the lab could be built and structured!” – Ben from Gulabi

ben and chris standing inside the lab
Image provided by Gulabi

At the time, Ben and Chris tell me, there was no place in Glasgow that would develop and scan to a high quality and this would often come up in conversation. So necessity became the impetus to start their own lab. Ben had experience in developing film for years and often developed for friends as well.

They said, “It was a huge risk deciding to start the lab having only known each other a short period of time, and not knowing whether there was the demand in Glasgow. However, our strengths complemented each other, and the response from everyone has been beyond our wildest expectations (I know it’s cliché!).”

film lab box outside storefront
Image provided by Gulabi

About the choice for their name Ben says, “Gulabi is the romanisation of the Hindi-Urdu word for the colour pink (Hindi गुलाबी, Urdu گلابی). Chris was insistent on this name which reflects his heritage and I came around to it. It also sounds great in a Glasgwegian accent (it’s normally pronounced like ‘goo-lah-bi’, you can hear it said here).”

Luckily, the studio space which they both used had a Jobo ATL2500 film processor which Ben says was set up in an incredibly small space under a set of stairs. They started using this and then managed to find a Fuji SP3000 scanner to form the start of the lab.

After moving into their current space at 77 Torrisdale Street in October 2019, they managed to also procure a Fuji FP363 minilab and Fuji SP500 scanners. As the lab began to expand though, Covid-19 was looming on the horizon, unknown to everyone of course.

gulabi lab storefront in daylight
Image provided by Gulabi

Pandemic Perseverence

Ben says, “When Covid hit we imagined it may be the end for our wee idea — 2020 was maybe the most stressful year of our lives between having an emerging business and renewing Chris’s visa during a pandemic. But to our surprise things got busier, and turned out well.”

They had to run a no-contact lab for the majority of 2020 and most of 2021 with a drop box outside of the lab as well as receiving orders in the post.

“It was a period of intense learning (lots of learning to repair and maintain end-of-life equipment) and refinement of our workflow. In addition to the basic lab duties (processing, scanning, customer service etc.), I generally take care of the physical machines — maintaining, sourcing spares, replacing parts. Chris takes care of the digital side of things — scanners and obsolete software, and the like,” Ben said.

lab equipement
Image provided by Gulabi
lab equipment
Image provided by Gulabi

Through all of the stress of the pandemic, they survived successfully and are now a team of four. Team members Marilena and Luke joined in 2021 and 2022 (respectively).

gulabi team outside the lab
Image provided by Gulabi
gulabi team outside the lab
Image provided by Gulabi

The team generally turns around colour film within 24 hours, which is impressive. They do also offer a 24 hour turnaround for black and white film, but of course with some caveats. The scans they offer are only at the highest resolution. The lab is all about providing a very high level of quality for their customers.

To find more information about the lab and their services, head over to their website here. And of course if you can make it to the party, have fun!

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About The Author

By Molly Kate
Photographer, writer, and CPA currently running a Youtube channel called Eclectachrome. I'm a huge fan of shiny new objects which makes writing news a perfect fit. Favorite cameras are often mechanical rangefinders, folders, and compacts and I love most film stocks. I enjoy developing and scanning my own film as well as printing in the darkroom when there's extra time!
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Pete on You’re Invited! Glasgow Independent Film Lab, Gulabi’s 3rd Birthday Party

Comment posted: 24/08/2022

Can't be with you in body Gulabi but right there in spirit. I expect to see film photos of the event.

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Johan on You’re Invited! Glasgow Independent Film Lab, Gulabi’s 3rd Birthday Party

Comment posted: 25/08/2022

Awesome to hear their story.

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