Film seller Analogue Wonderland is on a roll
Posted on Jul 28, 2023
When it comes to inspiring the current generation of film photographers, UK-based online film retailer Analogue Wonderland has much to offer – including its best-selling black & white film, Ilford HP5 Plus
Twenty years ago, with digital photography in its ascendency, shooting film was painted as old hat. But now, with all generations discovering and re-discovering the art of shooting and developing film, the reverse can feel true. Film is in again, and film retailer Analogue Wonderland is leading the charge.
Set up in 2018 by a mother-and-son combo, the High Wycombe-based business has expanded rapidly and now stocks over 200 films from suppliers big and small, provides an in-house developing lab (‘The WonderLab’), and has introduced a customer rewards scheme.
Starting as one of Analogue Wonderland’s customers, art and portrait photographer Jack Wrighton is now one of its ambassadors, based on the strength of his TikTok videos. “I started doing TikToks about film photography because there’s a growing film community on the platform,” Jack enthuses. “Analogue Wonderland is very aware of the power of social media.”
1990s-born Jack’s love of film began when he picked up an old film camera in a charity shop and, when the pandemic hit, took the opportunity to explore his passion further. “I found I enjoyed the process and the quality of film,” he marvels. “The anticipation and the fact that film photography is very much not about instant gratification… I’m not anti-digital at all, but there’s something about a physical neg that feels quite special.”
Like Jack, those exploring or rediscovering a love affair with film are directed towards Analogue Wonderland’s best-selling Ilford HP5 Plus roll of film.
Beloved by beginners and pros alike, the appeal of Ilford HP5 Plus can be boiled down to its gorgeous black & white grain structure and vintage look and feel. At ISO 400, it’s ideal for shooting in normal British weather, but it can be pushed and pulled to deliver great results even at 1600 speed. That makes it good for beginners, because you can get the essentials wrong and it’ll still render a good image.
“Ilford HP5 Plus is one of the first films I tried shooting on; it has a good exposure latitude which can be used to great effect – you can really put it through the ringer, which makes it perfect for a newbie trying out film photography,” agrees Jack. “Black & white is great for portraiture and really makes the light on a person’s face sing.”
Made in Cheshire, the film is panchromatic, meaning it sees light across the entire visible spectrum and renders the image exactly how our own eyes see it, albeit in monochrome. Think of it like a Raw file, capturing tons of data that can be re-interpreted through scanning and editing – or when darkroom printing – to get the best result.
Analogue Wonderland offers the film at an affordable price, describing it as ‘the Swiss Army knife of black & white emulsions’. If you’ve not shot it before, it’s time to see what the fuss is about – and if you have shot it before, now’s the time to try anew and push yourself creatively. It’s available via the online retailer as a 12-exposure 120 film, popular with medium-format shooters, or as regular 35mm film, offering 24 exposures.
Originally featured in Issue 109 of Photography News.
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