The Sustainable Darkroom is a series of residencies, talks and workshops hosted by ‘The London Alternative Photography Collective’ (LAPC). It has been set up to give practitioners the chance to develop, research and share approaches to fostering a more sustainable and environmentally friendly photographic darkroom practice.

The month-long residency taking places throughout April and will bring together visual artists, researchers, scientists, technicians and academics, with whom process, materials and environment play a critical role in their work. Each week a group will take on one of the 4 themes: Recycling, Reworking, Removing or Repurposing.

Over the duration of the residency, participants will investigate the environmental impact of working in a darkroom and collectively research and test solutions and alternative approaches. The results of the residency will be presented in the form of workshops and participatory events at the end of each week and a symposium at the end of April.

Their programme has been amended due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, however stay tuned to their social media channels and website for online seminars during the residency.


IMG © Sofia Pires / London Alternative Photography Collective

We are fortunate enough to have some very talented people behind the services we offer here at Metro Imaging. From printing to framing, scanning to retouch, we have a variety of skilled individuals working alongside our clients on a diverse range of photographic projects. 

This weeks team member in focus is Chris Howes, our Senior Retoucher. Chris has been retouching for over 25 years – both in the UK and internationally –  working with design agency’s, photographers and major retailers worldwide.


Can you tell us about your background in the industry and how you developed your career?

I started retouching in 1977 where we worked directly onto transparencies, using brushes and dyes and various chemicals for bleaching and making colour changes. I was training for some time before being allowed to work on an actual job for a client.
Five years on and I moved to Sweden where they had no retouchers at the time. After a couple of years I returned home and went freelance, then into a studio called Obscura where I worked mostly on car brochures for Ford and Landrover, during my time there, we went digital, and along with everyone else started a completely new way of working. This was before photoshop, but looking back, similar in many ways.

Can you tell us about your role as Senior Retoucher at Metro Imaging?

As senior retoucher I help by looking at a brief and work out how long it may take to do, so a quote can be given. Along with my colleagues Lara and Patrick, we look at proofs together and decide what needs adjusting to make good. Also working with other retouchers on similar images we can discuss together the way we work, sharing ideas and creative input.

What type of imagery do you prefer to work on usually?

I prefer working on model shots, either on location or studio. Making garments fit and colour matching, using extra photography to comp new elements in, and I also enjoy cleaning up skin for beauty work.

What advice would you share with artists interested in using our Creative Retouching services?

The only advice I can give to someone wanting to use creative retouch would be to discuss it first using high res images so a quote could be given, and maybe to come and talk directly to a retoucher.

For more info on our Retouch services see here.

We love showcasing our clients artwork in our front of house gallery, and even through we may not be able to open our doors and show you around right now, we can certainly introduce you to the artists and the work we’ll be exhibiting as part of our 2020 Spring Showcase.

Our next artist in the spotlight is Alexander Mourant, a London based artist, focusing mainly on longterm landscape projects through a mix of analogue processes. His work has been included in publications such as FT Weekend Magazine, British Journal of Photography, Photograph, Unseen Magazine and The Greatest Magazine. Recent solo shows include Aomori at The Old Truman Brewery and Unseen Amsterdam, alongside group shows at Jersey Arts Centre and Peckham 24.

How would you describe your process and practice?

I’ve noticed how my practice and interests are never fixed, they tend to shift and move around. However, in terms of approach, I do often have a concrete idea that I work towards. So, I wouldn’t say my practice is spontaneous. As I’m very conceptually driven, I construct the entire work in my head: how it should look, feel and exist. My work often goes through a rigorous process of ticking boxes, or meeting requirements, before I make it. It has to work on many levels before I decide to produce it. And that’s a hard thing to do. Having said that, I try to stay open to unforeseen happenings within the process.

Do you feel printing your images is an important aspect of your artwork?

Very much so. I think many artists have commented on the nature of translation, of image into paper, which brings with it new sensations of texture and scale. Something happens here which can’t entirely be predicted. I also feel each image gravitates towards a specific size; as the maker, I just get a sense that it wants to be this or that. Of course, some images, rare ones, can happily move between various scales, and that’s something I haven’t quite grasped yet. My works tend to find their ground and dig in.

Tell us about the particular image you chose to show at Metro Imaging for the Spring Showcase…

I’ve chosen Blue Tree, from my series Aomori (2017). It’s a body of work which I produced at Metro Imaging, and exhibited at The Old Truman Brewery, as part of my Free Range Award solo show. Aomori meaning “blue forest” in Japanese, is a synthesis of two existential ideas: the forest and the nature of blue.

Do you have any new projects or exhibitions planned for 2020 that you can tell us about?

Currently, I’m juggling some long-term personal projects and a private commission. However, I’m leading up to my graduate showcase from the Royal College of Art, which will be on show in June/July 2020. I’ll be showing unseen work which is an exciting new direction for my practice.

Could you share with us the best career advice you received to date?

I think one of the best pieces of advice I received was to never release work before it’s ready. That’s something I’ve been dealing with over the last few months, so it’s fresh in my mind. I guess it relates to being patient, and with the nature of artwork, you can’t rush it.

You can see more of Alexander’s work on his website and Instagram feed, and once we’re back-up and running you’ll see his beautiful image in our front of house gallery as part of Metro’s Spring Showcase. Stay tuned to our news feed for more interviews with our Front of House artists.

IMG © Alexander Mourant, Blue Tree, 2017, from series Aomori
IMG 2 © Aomori, The Old Truman Brewery, London, 2018
IMG 2 © Aomori, The Old Truman Brewery, London, 2018


Over the next few weeks we’ll be publishing some interviews with artists, galleries and curators we’ve had the privilege of working with in recent times. They’ll be sharing their stories with us on practise and process as well as providing career advice.

This week our artist in focus is photographer Owen Harvey, a British documentary & advertising photographer, based in London. His work often focusses on Youth, Subculture and Identity, and has exhibited his photographs at renowned venues including The Photographers’ Gallery, Youth Archive at Carnaby St, and The National Portrait Gallery. He has also produced editorials for organisations such as BBC, Time Inc., Financial Times Magazine, GQ Magazine, Vogue Italia and others.

Owen is also currently in residence on our Instagram feed this week sharing the stories behind his images.

How would you describe your photographic style and process?

I studied Documentary photography and my primary interest is photographing people. This interest is usually through portraiture or candid moments and I’m often interested in the notion of identity, subculture & heritage.

Could you tell us about your background in the photography industry and how you developed your career?

I studied photography at the University of Wales, Newport and after this worked in photographic galleries and agencies such as Magnum Photos, Foto8 and of course, Metro Imaging. After this I decided to go full time freelance and worked hard on personal projects, which helped me gain commercial work. After doing this alone for three years I joined my agency, Trayler & Trayler, who now rep me for commercial projects.

Are you working on anything particular at the moment?

I’ve been working on a series on Young Fathers and alongside this working in a more candid way shooting in Southend-On-Sea, both projects are at fairly early stages. Alongside this I’ve been shooting commercial work and of course always trying to come up with new ideas. 

What aspect of your career to date are you most proud of?

Having images hanging at the National Portrait Gallery was a proud moment for me and also having my first solo show on Carnaby St felt like a great milestone. 

Could you share with us the best career advice you received?

I’m not sure if I’ve received one piece of career advice that stands out, but I’ve had a lot of people who have been kind enough to share honest sentiments with me. A few people either for good or bad have really taught me the importance of sticking to your guns as such and producing work that you feel is good. Try not to let too many opinions distract you from that. 


You can see more of Owen’s work on his website and Instagram feed, and once we’re back-up and running you can see two images from his series ‘Mod UK’ printed on black and white fibre on show in our London lab.

Stay tuned to our news feed for more interviews with our artists and industry friends.

IMG 1 © Owen Harvey, from series Ground Clearance
IMG 2 © Owen Harvey, from series ‘Mod UK’
IMG 3 © Owen Harvey,  from series ‘Skins & Suedes’,