Silverprint Limited, as film photographers will already know, is no more, at least in its recent form. It came as a surprise, although it probably shouldn’t have. So what, if anything, should we think?


Silverprint Limited has been in business selling all things film-photographic for many more years than I care to remember. I remember the Silverprint from the its London/Martin Reed days, then more recently in its recent guise at Poole in Dorset.

It was only about six weeks ago that I was speaking to Bernadett (a director) about an order for gold toner. Luckily, I cancelled the order and got a refund, as Silverprint had not been able to satisfy the order after 5 weeks of waiting. I was told that the Italian supplier did not want to supply, but I wasn’t told why this was the case. I guess I now know why.


What makes this company failure so disappointing is the range of items that Silverprint sold. It’s still easy to buy the main stuff needed to make film pictures, such as film, paper, dev chemicals and the like, but anything out of the norm is getting harder to find.

It was a surprise, but in a way, it wasn’t. The trading environment will have been very hard. I don’t know the specific reason that tipped Silverprint over the edge but it’s always about cash-flow. It is likely to have had difficulties in sourcing its products from overseas, following Brexit; difficulties as a UK company in getting credit from overseas suppliers; prevailing economic factors in the UK with higher interest rates and customers having to make ends meet. All this in what must be a declining market. 1 That’s a lot of fires.

Silverprint is unlikely to be a one-off: the closure of Wet Plate Supplies closure, the changed direction of Robert White, the low or out-of-stock notices on many of the current suppliers’ web-sites hardly improve confidence.

Alas, we have to accept that the traditional darkroom is a slowly dying thing. Fewer people have the time and money to invest in a darkroom. The input costs of chemicals has increased enormously leading to film and paper prices sky-rocketing in the last few years. Environmental doubts grow. Picture editors see film as an irrelevance. etc ..

‘Nothing new in any of this!’ I can hear you saying. What’s new is the demise of a major supplier. Silverprint is a bit of a quantum-shift. It brings closer the tipping point for other suppliers as darkroom workers start to abandon the wet process.

What to do?

For those passionate enough like me, there will always be a way. Film is worth the effort because it is quite different to what you get from digital. Sure enough, digital images can be doctored to look filmic, but the final image is not the only reason we darkroom workers do what we do. The final image is a means to something else.

There are four things that I am doing to safeguard my photography:

  • I have some strategic reserves of the main stuff that I need to continue with my darkroom – mainly film and paper. I can make most of the chemicals.
  • I will continue to buy from Harman, Ag Photographic, Firstcall and others, and when in Berlin, Fotoimpex.
  • I am being more careful when buying stuff – if it’s not in stock I am not paying up front.
  • I am investing time into learning techniques that make my photography more self-sufficient – mainly learning to coat paper.

So, the Silverprint case was a surprise. But I remain unfazed.

  1. Whereas there is optimistic talk of growth in the film market, even if true, I doubt it extends to darkroom sales. It is probably confined to film sales destined for the hybrid/scanning process. Additionally, the second-hand market for film cameras has been bouyant – this seems like a bubble

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