I work in the capitol of my state, not the largest city, but not small either--there's only one store that stocks a decent line of film, paper & chemistry, and there's only one professional Q lab left in business, whereas a few years ago we had two, and about a half dozen comparable non-certified fuji/kodak labs. our state used to have the largest still photo studio in the world, and there were dozens of smaller ones and labs to support that--that are now almost all gone, or digital.
at work--this past week and a half we shot over 200 sheets of 4x5 film and had an insane week (still going on) of printing. I made almost 250 8x10s in the past 4 days, and right now I'm running more film to make more prints. In the coming few weeks, we'll actually have to make about that many larger prints including almost a dozen murals.
the labs we use to outsource the murals and color work, have almost all gone out of business in the past year or two. In the past week, we've been calling all over to find labs that still produce lightjets even. you would not believe the amount of labs that have gone under in the past year. we can't even get a cibachrome made locally right now, because the chemistry is all backordered.
our lab--our E6 machine died last month, and to our horror, we found only one lab left in town that runs E6. Our Ilford machine died as well, leaving us scouring the state for parts machines. We actually have SIX 2150 processors now, two working machines mothballed, one in use, and the rest parts junkers. It took us a month almost to cobble together a working machine from scratch.
In the past couple of months, my outlook has become rather cynical--because I don't see any support really, on the lab end. I don't see it as having more product on the shelves. That's no good if there are no E6 labs left. It's no good to me, if we replace our E6 machine and they quit making the chemistry a year from now, because all the Q labs are gone. I think we will be forced to get a new E6 processor of some sort, because there won't be any labs left to run it. It really says something, when this state that had the largest studio in the world, and had a whole industry in commercial photography that revolved around large format--when there are only a handful of E6 labs left in business, and almost all the lines are on reduced schedules.
We're thinking of getting a betterlight back to be honest. when & if we do that, and move over out of survival more or less--do you think the people that shoot a box of film a year, or a single brick are going to pick up the slack? We used to get polaroid 55 at about $35 a box. Now it's almost more than twice that. It's a real bad time for me--sorry--but I'm not all that optimistic about the future.
my opinions only as always/not my employers.