Hot on the heels of our recent EMULSIVE x Lomography Community Interview, we’re back with another member of the film photography industry eager for your questions.
This time, it’s young industry upstart ILFORD PHOTO and this is your chance to ask them your burning questions. Interested? Read on below.
You know, ILFORD PHOTO (not to be confused with Ilford Imaging). If you paid attention to last year’s FP4+ review, you’ll know that ILFORD have been making photographic films and related products for over 135 years. In fact, their first ISO/ASA 400 film in 35mm format was released in the same year as Kodak’s Tri-X (1954). Granted that at the time, ILFORD HPS was a full stop faster!
It’s no secret that ILFORD and Kodak have been snapping at each other’s respective heels for decades; and today’s black and white film landscape has largely been shaped by a professional rivalry built on providing the best performing film and materials to both professionals and consumers alike.
Whilst we’re left with much calmer waters today, that doesn’t mean things are at a standstill. Not at all.
As per our introductory article, this interview will be presented in three parts:
Part one: Call for submissions (this article)
The submission window is open from today until June 1st 2016.
This is your chance to have a think about what kind of questions you want to ask to ILFORD and submit them in the comments section below.The comments section of this article is the only place we will be accepting questions.
Please keep your questions concise and limit yourself to a single question per comment. You may post two comments each.
Only new, parent comments will be considered for entry, so please don’t add yours as a reply if you want a chance to have yours featured.
When doors close on June 1st 2016, we’ll be locking the thread and our panel will be tasked with whittling down your submissions to roughly ten questions (more on the panel in a bit).
Part two: Handover
The submission window will close on June 1st 2016, at which point the panel will come together to deliberate. A shortlist of questions and commentary will then be passed over to ILFORD for review.
We’ll be working with ILFORD to put together a finished article as soon as possible after the submission window closes.
Part three: Release
We’re expecting to have the finished interview released toward the end of June and beginning of July 2016. If you posted a question that made the cut, you’ll be credited in the finished piece. There may be other things to announce here but we’ll leave that until closer to the time.
Interview structure and panel
The panel shortlist will consist of ~10 questions submitted by you, the film photography community, two questions from yours truly and one each from the panel. It’s the job of the panel to help make the final decision as to which of the questions submitted will make the cut for the final piece, as well as to discuss, review and revise the final interview before it’s released.
Why go to the trouble of selecting a panel?
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We want to alleviate any concerns regarding impartiality and bias and make the process transparent. Anyone can be a panel member for future Community Interviews, all you need do is ask.
Speaking of the panel, here they are:
The questions below form only the beginning of this Community Interview and can be added to, or expanded upon with your own. Please be careful not to repeat, or post similar questions to the ones below, as you entry will likely be discarded. Here’s what we have to start things off:
The ILFORD name has been associated with top quality products for as long as I have been a photographer, and in nearly 40 years, I have never had a quality issue with any ILFORD product. Kudos for maintaining that incredible record. You have also been able to survive in a very tough market where other companies have gone bankrupt and left the marketplace – more kudos to you!
Not all of your products suit my photography, but due to the range of products you offer, I have found the materials that fit my vision and style. I am wondering if there are new products in the works, or perhaps some expansion of current offerings (Pan F + in sheet film?), or if you are standing pat with what you offer now?
Is there any chance that you may venture into color film and paper at some point?
To many people black and white film and paper is synonymous with the name ILFORD. As the predominant B&W film manufacturer worldwide, what are your plans to engage and inspire the resurgence of analogue users? It appears that ILFORD is more reactive than transformational in engaging its audience. Have you thought about creating an ILFORD community — along the lines of engaging and utilising photographers work, thoughts, and ideas — through publication of users work? (I have seen this incorporated into Hasselblad, BBC, CNN, Nat Geo and the Guardian websites). Perhaps a lecture series (which you used to do in the 1940s), exhibitions and sponsorship?
Any plans to revive one or all of your newsletter/magazine or book series (such as The ILFORD Courier 1934; ILFORD Message 1936; ILFORD News; Panchromatism; Picture Beautiful Britain 1951, Flower identification books, and the Winter and Night Photography book).
And finally, when will the “Master of Photography” book (10th edition was 2010) be updated? How does ILFORD plan to drive actions and reactions from its core users and engage new ones? How will they adapt to a growing global community of connectivity? What customer engagement strategies will they implement in the near future?
Harman Technology (manufacturer of ILFORD PHOTO) was purchased by Pemberstone Ventures Ltd, a U.K. based investment company last year. It was good to hear the CEO of Pemberton talk about the potential of analogue photography and your CEO talk about a five year plan.
Generally and maybe unfairly, it is normally perceived that an investment company is only looking for returns for its investors and a sale – at profit – at some point in the future. Given that some time has now passed for Pemberstone to start work with you as a business partner, are you able to share any insights into how ILFORD will be looking to move forward to grow and to connect with film photographers of all ages, plus any reassurance for this group who have seen (from other manufacturers), film stock after film stock discontinued and prices continuously rise.
For many years now you have run an annual ULF ordering window to allow your customers to purchase special order runs of your films. Thank you. Can you see yourselves expanding this concept into pre-orders, or crowdfunding projects focused on film in formats you do not currently produce? For example, I’d personally love to see SFX in sheet film form. There are many recent examples of crowdsourcing successes in the film photography space from the likes of Cinestill, Galaxy and of course, Lomography; and in my personal opinion, any such project from ILFORD would generate significant interest.
The switch to the PLUS versions of HP5 and FP4 was nearly 30 years ago (1989 and 1990 respectively). To the best of my knowledge, HP5+ was specifically an answer to Kodak’s Tri-X 400 update and an attempt to provide better flexibility for push processing for the all important “Fleet Street” crowd. Given the decline in volumes of film being used for traditional print media do you feel that there’s still room to make enhancements to the existing formulae of these and your other films? Can you talk us through enhancements to these stocks over the years, that we may not be familiar with?
Next steps and guidelines
Doors for your submissions are open until June 1st 2016 and the only way to submit your question is in the comments section below.
1) Questions are not subject to moderation at this stage but you are asked to keep them civil and in the spirit of the community.
2) Any question deemed to be hostile or not encouraging reasonable discussion will be removed and the poster will be banned from future participation. In short, we’re all here for the same thing, so don’t be a troll.
3) Please prepend your submission with, “Question:”. For example: “Question: Why are you called Ilford?”
4) Submitted questions may be edited down into smaller chunks or merged with others if we feel there’s a need to do so. This being said, all questions will be submitted in their original form for ILFORD to answer.
5) If two or more very similar questions are posted, we will endeavour to credit the first person who posted it.
6) If we feel that two or more questions can be combined without losing their original value, we’ll credit each submitter as required.
These guidelines are by no means exhaustive but you can be assured that we’ll keep everything as transparent as possible during the process — see the EMULSIVE x Lomography interview for an example of how this finished interview might appear.
Over to you, let’s see what you’ve got.