There is something truly beautiful about developing photographs. At one moment you are holding a small negative in your hand, this piece of black plastic with a tiny inverse image, and in just a few minutes, with the help of some light, liquid and a white sheet of paper it will turn into so much more. It s almost like alchemy, an ancient rite performed in a darkened room, under a red light and with the smell of chemicals in the air, but then it turns to magic as you immerse a piece of white paper into the developer and watch an image unravel. It usually starts with one little detail, a detail you may not even have noticed at a first glance, and then spilling over the plain white flat rectangle until the whole scene comes together. The art of analog photography is, however, slowly dying. Digital is taking over, and it is so much easier to snap hundreds of photos and find the perfect one than to wait for the perfect light, perfect moment, perfect scene and capture it on one of the 24 to 36 spaces on the film. Editing? Can be done in a flash now, on the screen of your phone. Adding a filter or cropping? A few taps or clicks and it’s done. It’s the way things work- new, better, faster, more efficient ways of doing things crop up. Some things, however, are too good to let go. Developing photographs is one of them. You can publish a digital version of the photo online, on one social network or another, but you can’t hang it up on your wall, can’t pull it out of dusty photo album or carry it in your wallet and the act of printing a photo doesn’t even come close to the magic and excitement of developing one.
The team from Fojo.Me set off to revive this little creative ritual and bring it closer to younger generations by creating an “old-shool” dark room with a twist. Vanda Voloder, Ilija Stjepić, Daniel Bakotić and Leo Gavranić are bringing forth Enfojer, a set for developing black and white analogue photos straight from your smartphone. As they noted in their Indiegogo campaign:
Enfojer bridges almost 200 years of photographic history, from the first camera to the most recent hybrid camera phones that made photography ubiquitous. It is our hope and desire that with this little gadget we preserve the old art of photo development and help you, and you, and you rediscover the magic that happens in a darkroom.
The whole set is pretty awesome, with a retro-hipster-instagram-ish design to it and great attention paid to the smallest of details. The photo enlarger is activated by snapping your fingers and then the whole process takes place like in the good old days- except that your photo enlarger is a really cool and highly portable piece of equipment instead of a fifty year old chunk of metal that takes most of the space in your closet and can’t be carried more than a few meters without risking a back sprain. The kit includes Enfojer, tongs, trays photographic paper and a safelight- everything you need to get started, save the photos, so start snapping! The set serves as an educational tool (there is also a cool video) and an entry-level photo enlarger for enthusiasts, however, pros will get some kicks out of it too. The fun part is that developing photos this way is a lot cheaper than printing them with an average printer (and so much cooler), and the photos made with Enfojer can last up to 70 years. By that time, your teeth will be few and sparse and your memory wonky, but the photographs will still be beautiful.
Sure, Enfojer is a great piece of hardware (if we can call it that), but there is also a software to back it up. The Fojo app for iPhone was developed by Croatian developer company Infinum and it has four distinct functionalities: Camera, Editor, Film Factory and Fojolize. The Camera functionality lets you easily select the desired format as well as preview of all the applied vignettes, filters and effects, and you can choose between full manual control or point-and-shoot settings. With the Editor you can easily crop and finetune your photos as well as control all the film presets manually. The Film Factory lets you store presets, share them with other and access a wide variety of „films“, whereas Fojolize makes your photo developing experience social.
All in all, I tip my hat to the whole team beahinf Enfojer and Fojo for bringing some of the analog magic back into the digital age and I can’t wait for it to hit the stores.