Recently, my friend Lorraine Healy sent me Kosmo Foto’s article on some rather cool film packaging produced in Russia by SREDA (СРЕДА) Film Lab. New to the world of film I became intrigued… in part because the packaging was indeed rather cool (there’s a biplane on the spool of SFL T-42), but also because I happened to be in Moscow and wondered where this photo lab might be.
Surprisingly, after a quick search via Yandex, I found them less than 6km away. Most places don’t provide much information other than an address and sometimes the nearest Metro. SREDA, though, has a fantastic website and an impressive amount of information. Even though everything is in a different language, there’s an ease to navigation along with details on how to find them – whether by car or on foot.
Sometimes pieces fit – they just slide into place. Many shops have popped up as internet only… I’ve visited more than a few places to find they don’t ‘physically’ exist to the public or if they did, they don’t anymore. When I realized this might not be the case for SREDA, I began planning the trip which might sound a little odd compared to their proximity. Let me explain:
On the island where I live, if I want to go out to a store I simply go there. No forethought is required. But with cold temperatures, a language barrier, and public transportation that requires you pay a little more attention than you might at home, planning seemed like the thing to do. So, I began studying maps and their website, made lists in both Russian and English for what I wanted to buy and inquired by email if they were indeed a shop I could ‘walk into’ rather than internet only.
The response from Pavel Kosenko (co-founder of SREDA Film Lab) was almost immediate: “Sure, you can buy films in our offline-shop! Waiting for you.” Reading this… seeing this… I was amazed. So rare to find a place that’s friendly, open, and waiting!
What follows below is our trip to SREDA, one photo at a time from the Metro station to the very last door before stepping into a cozy warm space equipped with couches, tables, copious amounts of film and books, and a little café where you can have a bite to eat and warm up with a very large pot of tea.
The Journey begins…
That Saturday, my friend Vera and I made the trek to SREDA with shopping lists and maps in hand. It was snowing and finding the exact street was a little bit of a mix-up but eventually, we figured it out. Something to note: several buildings have the number 5. If you visit and are from out of town, just remember the building number SREDA is in: 5 only – not 5b, 5c, etc.
This first photo below was taken looking up Kanatchikovsky Pereulok towards the entrance to SREDA and the way back to Leninsky Prospekt Metro Station. The place in lights on the left is an auto repair shop where cars come flying in and out skidding wildly on the ice.
The second image above was taken from the same location as the first photo but looking the other way. My crazy friend Vera found a hole in the fence and snuck inside the restricted area – you can see her standing in the snowfield between the smokestack and the lights…
This is the entry to the lot where SREDA is located. If you are on foot, you can’t go through this way (zooming in you’ll see a do not walk sign on the gate that restricts cars from entering)… you have to go into a door to the left of the driveway down a strangely lit hall that looks like something from the slums of Bridgeport CT, and then lean into someone’s hovel and tell them you’re going to SREDA. They’ll buzz you through and you exit that building into the grounds where there are several warehouse-looking buildings.
There are signs along the way: one dead center of the picture (just above and to the right of the car) and the others on the posts of the building behind it. This is the building SREDA is in.
The interior is like a studio space split into sections: one corner is books, a handful of cameras and accessories. The other is where the film is kept and a couple of folks helping people out when buying film, etc. Then there’s a small cafe with simple things like tea, coffee, and baked goodies.
All in all, finding our way to SREDA was a great way to spend a Saturday and I am proud to say we came away with 16 rolls of film.
Our shopping list contained:
- Six rolls of SFL B/W T-42 ISO 400 (120)
- Two rolls of K250D Color (135/36)
- Two rolls of SFL B/W UN54 (135/36
- One roll of ADOX Silvermax B/W 100 (135/36)
- …and a collection of 5 rolls of expired Fuji 35mm (Fuji Eterna 500T, Fuji Eterna 500T Vivid, Fuji Reala 500D, Fuji F500T)
New to shooting film, I’ve been experimenting with a Fuji GW690iii, a Tachihara 4×5, and on this recent trip to Moscow, an Olympus XA. For the Fuji, I picked up three rolls of SFL B/W T-42 ISO 400.
The remaining 13 rolls made the trip home safely to Lorraine, although I have to say the foil wrappers truly baffled some of the security folks at the airport until I explained in great pantomime that the contents were for use with the camera.
All shots were taken with the Fuji X-Pro2, 16mm lens with the following exception: three were inside SREDA with my iPhone using Adam Fowler’s Viewfinder Preview iPhone app set to simulate the Fuji GW690III with ILFORD HP5 PLUS.
Thanks for reading,
Write for EMULSIVE
EMULSIVE is all about promoting knowledge transfer across the film photography community. You can help by contributing your thoughts, work and ideas to inspire others reading these pages: check out the submission guide.
If you like what you're reading you can help this passion project by heading on over to the EMULSIVE Patreon page. There's also print and apparel over at Society 6, currently showcasing over two dozen t-shirt designs and over a dozen unique photographs available for purchase.