About

Ag offers the most comprehensive combination of Film processing, Fine art printing, mounting, framing and a wide array of specialist photographic consumables and products - with the backing of experience: incorporated into our business is Peter Gaffney's Metro Colour Lab, established in Birmingham 1946. We use the highest quality materials available, and we have invested heavily in right equipment, producing the finest results. But, most importantly, your work is handled by professional technicians and photographic printers who have a lot of experience.

An unrivalled level of experience in photofinishing

Your film processing, scanning, photographic and fine art printing is in safe hands. We understand how important this is: you've invested time and money in capturing your images and you want complete confidence in whoever will process and handle these images.

With over 100 years of experience split between our staff, we know how to treat your film, how to turn around your orders quickly, and with consistency. Operating a professional photographic lab service requires a level of experience that is impossible to acquire simply via an interest in photography. Photo-processing on a commercial scale demands the implementation of many production and photo-chemical procedures together with a high level of investment in the best equipment and personnel - no other lab has invested more than Ag.

We operate from our modern premises in Birmingham. We have a counter service and shop showroom together with our online ordering for customers based all over the UK and as far afield as Australia, the Middle East and Europe.

Meet the team

Matt Wells

Direct email: [email protected]

Founder of Ag Photographic+Photolab and managing director. Day to day management of the business is Matthew's responsibility together with long term growth strategy.

"My aim with Ag has been to make photographic services - including the processing of film, digital photographic printing, film printing and scanning - as hassle free, and as affordable as possible. But, whilst affordable, to ensure there is no compromise on quality, and that we deliver the very best possible results for customers, consistently, roll to roll, print to print, order to order. This is only possible by employing the best and most experienced people in the business, operating within strict parameters and investing in the best quality materials and equipment. Our latest mission is to fully integrate the supply of photographic products - such as film paper and chemistry - with our lab service offer, cross promoting to give customers the best value possible for their photography"

Matthew graduated with an honours degree in Law, University of London, in 1997 and moved immediately into business after completing this. Whilst Matthew's main role in Ag is managerial, where he brings 25 years of entrepreneurial background, he also has considerable experience in darkroom work and spent a number of years as a professional social photographer. Outside interests include old and historic buildings, classic cars, classic lawn mowers.

Matt Wells

Managing director

Nick Howse

Photographic technician

Nick Howse

email: [email protected]
Nick has over 30 years experience in photo processing and finishing, starting his career in the darkrooms of Quadrant (a large photo lab in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire) during the 90's, colour hand printing, B&W printing, and film processing. In 2000 Nick moved to Peter Gaffney's Metro Colour Lab, in Birmingham. Peter, who had been in the industry since the 1960's, could see Nick would be a huge asset to his business and at Ag we were very fortunate to bring Nick along when the Peter Gaffney business was incorporated into Ag in 2012. Nick's principle role is in ensuring quality standards are maintained in all areas, especially consistency in colour balancing of scanned film and prints. It's hard to estimate, but we have done a rough calculation and believe that Nick has balanced, by eye, around 10 million photographs during his career, possibly more! In his spare time Nick enjoys cycling and supporting Aston Villa football club.

Dave Shepherd

email: [email protected]
Dave is an experienced photographer, darkroom worker and lab technician with 20 years of experience in photofinishing and lab work, almost 10 years of that at Ag. He is also super organised, efficient and expedites lab orders, processing and ensures top quality control. With a first class degree in photography, Dave has a keen interest in a wide variety of photographic genre and having exhibited his own work and curated exhibitions for others, understands the needs and demands of our student, educational and Fine Art customers. In his spare time Dave enjoys hiking and camping and can often be found traversing the Scottish Borders or the mountains of eastern Europe.

Dave Shepherd

Photographic technician

Peter Gaffney

Specialist Technician

Peter Gaffney

email: [email protected]
Peter's vast experience, stretching over 50 years in the photographic processing industry, is a huge asset to Ag. Overseeing quality in the lab generally, Peter's main role today is in the processing of all E6 transparency films - a specialist service, but much in demand.

Peter's father started his business as a full time professional photographer in 1946 specialising in weddings, portraits and social photography, always processing his own work. Peter began working in the business in the 1960's when they became the first photographers in Birmingham to shoot weddings in colour - by the 1980's they were shooting over 300 weddings a year, but also processing for other photographers which lead the business to become primarily a photo processing lab. Peter started the Metro Colour Lab service in 1980's and pioneered mail order film processing, winning countless awards for processing quality, many of which attributed to the E6 service - which is the most demanding process to operate.

Steve Ford

email: [email protected]
Before joining Ag Steve had many years experience in both the photographic and print industries both in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. His role at Ag is ensuring timely dispatch of goods and lab orders, and is often the first person many customers will speak to when calling us and the person you are most likely to encounter, on our counter, if you visit Ag in person. Steve ensures customers are always kept informed about their orders, or if we need to check any aspect of your requirements. Steve is a true camera enthusiast, has extensive knowledge of classic models, and enjoys collecting cameras in is spare time.

Steve Ford

Customer Service & Dispatch

Carlie-Ann Hare

Processing Assistant

Carlie-Ann Hare

Carlie is the latest addition to the team at Ag, having previously worked for WEX (Warehouse Express) within their Birmingham ex-Calumet store. With a strong interest in all photographic and artistic genre Carlie understands the importance customers attach to their work and film processing and this is very important in her principle role preparing film for processing and sleeving processed film. Carlie also has a strong interest in digital illustrating.

James Britton

email: [email protected]
A fully qualified accountant, James keeps the company in check when it comes to money matters and has developed a very full understanding of the photographic industry. James is also involved in plotting longer term strategy for the company, forecasting, and ensuring management figures are always available for our directors. James is an avid supporter of Wolves football club and enjoys an enthusiastic chat with Nick.

James Britton

Accountant

The Environment & Sustainability at Ag

PHOTOGRAPHIC PRINTING

The majority of photographic prints made by Ag are no-ink, continuous tone genuine photographic prints, and made on Fujifilm paper. Arguably, Fujifilm make the most sustainable photographic paper in the world – not only when compared against no-ink silver halide paper manufacturers, but also against all inkjet and dye sublimation paper manufacturers.

The factories of FUJIFILM Tilburg, where the paper is made, are 100% powered by wind energy. The company has a waste water treatment plant on site where the waste water is purified together with four neighbour companies. Also the company focuses on waste reduction and turning waste into valuables. But above all, FUJIFILM photographic paper is FSC® certified. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) defines standards for sustainable forest management.

PHOTO CHEMISTRY

The processing of both film and paper in our photo lab requires the use of photographic chemicals. Over the last 30 years photographic chemistry has been continuously reformulated and refined with the environment at the forefront of manufacturers priorities. Ag handles photochemistry in a responsible manner and uses the latest chemical formulations. Waste with the most significant potential environmental impact, is spent fixer, as it contains silver which is recovered, see below.

We currently use photochemistry from the following manufacturers, all of whom have extensive environmental and sustainability procedures in place.

C41 film process – Fuji Hunt

Part of Fujifilm, Fuji Hunt offer the finest quality photochemistry, rigorously quality controlled, it’s simply the best and when processing precious customer’s film, there can be no compromise. As would be expected, Fujifilm have some of the strictest environmental standards in place. Over the years Fujifilm have wedded themselves to exceeding legal environmental standards, regularly eliminating chemical components even when there is no legal requirement to do so. One such example would be the elimination of boron in Fuji products, which still remains in some formulations from other manufacturers.

E6 film process – Fuji Hunt

Fujifilm, as per C41.

Black & White film process – Ilford

Synonymous with the world of black and white, naturally, we feel Ilford offer us the perfect partner for B&W film developer. Based only a few miles up the M6 motorway from us, we know the business and the principles of the company well. They have always been a company conscious of their sustainability obligations.

RA4 paper process – Tetenal

One of the oldest names in photography, Tetenal is based in Germany and subscribes to the highest levels of sustainable production that manufacturing in Germany has become well known for.

Silver Recovery

We leverage the value in silver so as to ensure zero heavy metal waste

Silver is the single most environmentally challenging by product of traditional photo processing. Technically, silver is a heavy metal. It causes problems if it enters water treatment plants. But at the same time silver is a precious metal, valuable (one of the reasons photographic film and paper costs what it does – it contains a lot of silver) and at Ag we leverage this value in order to ensure zero silver waste. Silver enters the fixer bath during both film and paper processing – unexposed areas of the film or paper (for example, shadow areas in negative film where there has been little exposure) and thus spent fixer becomes hazardous waste. Therefore, all silver-bearing waste is retained in containers and collected by a certified waste handler who extracts and refines the silver and safely neutralise the remaining waste with no environmental impact. Our waste handler has been refining silver and other precious metals for over 300 years and handles silver recovery for the likes of Kodak, the NHS, Rolls Royce Plc and many other leading organisations who demand a clean bill of health when it comes to waste management.

120 film spools waiting for recycling at our premises in Birmingham

Fujifilm Tilberg, Netherlands. The Fujifilm paper and chemistry we use at Ag is manufactured here. Fujifilm, famously, installed numerous turbines to run the facility making is the most sustainable factory of its type.