Printing and processing of black & white film has shot up 45% in a year, signalling a resurgence of interest in traditional ‘silver gelatin’ prints among photographers, according to figures released by Ilford Photo.

‘There is still a passion about the darkroom,’ said Ilford Photo sales director Steven Brierley in an interview with Amateur Photographer.

Brierley (pictured) admitted that use of traditional home-based darkrooms among photographic enthusiasts ‘has gone’.

But, he added, interest from photographic colleges is ‘very robust’ – boosted by an interest in people enrolling for photography evening classes.

Ilford’s research suggests that 2,000-3,000 people a year in the UK take an evening photography course at institutions that include use of a traditional darkroom.

Brierley said that the firm’s sales of 35mm b&w film remain ‘pretty stable’ despite a slight overall decline in sales worldwide.

And Ilford’s sales of 120 film have rocketed ‘18%’ in value terms, according to Brierley, partly as a result of a ‘glut’ of low-priced secondhand rollfilm cameras around 18 months ago.

Brierley said that half of Ilford’s 45% rise in d&p sales revenue stems from the company’s new online service, launched earlier this year. Ilford Lab Direct delivers prints – made from film or digital originals – direct to the customer’s door.

Ilford, which is based in Cheshire, says it now holds 15-20% of the b&w printing and processing market, up from 10% a year ago.

Brierley said the firm has taken advantage of high street retailers that have done away with a b&w printing service altogether.

Ilford compared sales revenue figures for January-August 2009 to those for the same period the year before.

Ilford film