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Take your own snapshots and make your own cameras at the Emulsion Gallery

Exterior and interior of the Emulsion Gallery, a photography store located in Chicago, IL.
Exterior and interior of the Emulsion Gallery, a photography store located in Chicago, IL.
Coleman Gailloreto

Only a decade or so ago, the majority of people still used film-based cameras to capture interesting sights. The advent of the digital camera made traditional cameras less popular, and the proliferation of the camera phone even more so. These days, only professional photographers and hobbyists seem to continue to use the classic archetype of the camera.

The exterior of the Emulsion Gallery
Coleman Gailloreto

Still, for those who appreciate the timeless quality of developed film, the Emulsion Gallery, located on 1422 N. Milwaukeee Ave, is a great resource for acquiring the supplies and technical skills needed to pursue traditional photography.

First founded in 2012 as a branch store for the Lomographic Corp, the Emulsion Gallery became an independent store after their parent company withdrew their funding. Ever since then, they've been trying to promote the art of analog photography in their community, and provide the goods and services film photographers need.

The store's interior is filled with shelves of colorful items, ranging from carry bags to flash attachments to cameras and film rolls. There are multiple kinds of film rolls for different purposes, ranging from color and black and white to infrared, instant and color negatives. There are small cameras for sale the size of mint tins, as well as larger boxy models with special viewfinders and spring-deployed lens boxes that look like they should be in the hands of a 1940s journalist. One of the most interesting cameras in stock is the Konstruktor, a “Do It Yourself” kit with pieces and components that buyers can assemble into their own customized camera.

The Emulsion Gallery not only has a photo lab where people can bring their film rolls to be developed, but also hosts a series of workshops that provide “technical training in film photography”, as well as “a little bit of everything.” The “Double Exposures With 2 Cameras'”workshop, for instance, teaches people how superimpose two different photos of the same object on each other for artistic effect, while the “Diana F+” workshop teaches people how to use a the aforementioned model of camera. Most of these classes cost $12 dollars, with a $7 dollar discount if you show a student ID and bring your own camera.

The Emulsion Gallery currently has no public darkroom for customer use. When asked about this, the Gallery's employees recommended stopping by the nearby Chicago Community Darkroom, a public darkroom facility that hosts educational photography workshops of it's own, and will be covered in next week's article...