Parallax Photographic Coop

  • Photography  Max Barnett
  • Words  Abi Buller

We spoke to the founders of new film focused business Parallax, about their origins, role within the analogue community and hopes for the future.

How did Parallax start?

We founded Parallax Photographic in 2016 as a worker cooperative. Four of us comprise the co-op: we were working for a London-based photography shop that had decided to close their store and move out of London. With this move we were all made redundant, so we met up to discuss what had happened and the idea of opening our own shop was born. We had each been responsible for managing different aspects of the old business and believed that collectively we had the knowledge and skills to start our own venture. Key to our conception was that we would be a worker cooperative, which means that the power is in the hands of the employees: we own it and we run it.

What do you think are the benefits of being a cooperative?

Being a cooperative means we make collective decisions about the direction and management of the business, while sharing the risks and responsibilities. It is our belief that by working together as equals we help build a democratic, sustainable and forward-thinking business.

The purpose of the cooperative model is to, above all else, focus on the needs of its workers, producers and users. We put democracy at the heart of our company, guaranteeing the employees will always have control over the direction of the business. We ensure that Parallax will always be run in the best interest of workers, customers and suppliers.

In a truly cooperative sprit we place value on fairness, equality and community. We wanted a place that would strive to cater to everyone’s needs and where everyone would be welcome. This space is increasingly important as more people are trying film photography for the first time.

What message do you want to send to potential customers?

We want to show that we are in this for them, and that Parallax Photographic Co-op puts people before profit.  We’re showing that we care about the film community and the future of film photography. While we want to create sustainable and fairly paid jobs for ourselves, we aren’t setting out to get rich. We understand the significant role that businesses like us can play in shaping the future of the industry. It is our intention to supportive of the community whose passion for photography we share.

We want people to know that when they shop with us not only will they get a fair deal, but they are also investing in the future of film along with us.

What makes Parallax special?

There isn’t another company out there like us.

There isn’t any other photographic supply cooperatives. But more significantly, we have a distinctive combination of people – our team are our business and that makes us unique. With that we hope that we provide a friendly, welcoming and inclusive place for customers of all ages, backgrounds, and skill levels to come, have a chat and pick up some film.

We are invested in the future of film photography, and the new generation of users. In an industry that can sometimes be quite inwards looking, we are excited about the possibilities ahead. We believe the future of film photography requires a new kind of business, so we are proud to be different.

What do you think the analogue community is in need of?

Film doesn’t exist without the film community, and visa versa. So we need people to continue to shoot film. But we also believe the community must look after the resources it has.

The struggles of the big global film manufacturers have been well documented, but recent times have been equally hard for the small, independent businesses that provide key services for the photographic community. Photography shops, darkrooms and labs are wonderful places, full of passion, expertise and knowledge. But they aren’t guaranteed, and we must all make sure we use them if we want they to stay. It would be terrible if we were to loose these vital resources that do so much to keep film viable and accessible to the whole community.

We are aware that the film community really needs to look after itself. When people spend their hard earned money they should think about what businesses they are supporting and how in turn that business will support the long-term future of the film industry.

Find your local darkrooms, labs and photography shops and make the effort to use them – this will keep film alive.

What is next for Parallax?

The plan is to build on what we are doing. It has only been a year and we have been growing fast, and adding lots of new products to our range, but there is plenty more to do. We hope that the more the word spreads, the more people will give us a try – either online or by visiting the store.

We are committed to offering the widest range of film and photographic supplies possible so hopefully there a good reason to come say hello – we love to meet new people. We will also continue to support various photography events and opportunities that give back to the community. The more we continue to grow, the more we will be able to give back. Suffice to say we are excited about the future – for us and for film

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