Picture perfect
First film lab opened in Nunavut

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Jan 17/00) - Shutterbugs rejoice.

Your days of waiting for your film to be shipped south and processed are over.

Thanks to the newest addition at NorthMart -- the Iqaluit grocery store formerly known as the Northern store -- camera buffs in the capital can now have their film developed in their own backyard.

"Steady my heart," said Alan Hetherington, the store's full-time film processor who said he was extremely pleased to be part of Nunavut's first film processing venture.

"It's exciting, interesting and gratifying," he added.

With some experience processing black and white film manually, Hetherington said it seemed like an easy transition to apply for the job as primary developer at the newly- renovated store.

One thing led to another and the long-time resident of Iqaluit now spends his days feeding film into what's known as the stand-alone processing machine.

"It was the chance to do something interesting and get paid for it," he said.

The photo lab, which opened for business on Dec. 3, accepts for processing several different types of colour and black and white film and offers one and three-day service.

The in-house lab also has the facility to make reprints and if a photographer -- professional or otherwise -- requires even speedier service, it's possible to feed a roll of undeveloped film through the machine in 23 minutes.

"I'm using my head a little bit," said Hetherington.

"The machine will function automatically, but we can sometimes improve the print and make better use of the machine manually," he said.

As for the pressure of meeting processing deadlines while providing speedy customer service, Hetherington hasn't had a problem so far. But he said his job responsibilities are about to increase.

"We have rather a lot to do most of the time, but it's going to get heavier because we're going to be offering the service to the rest of (Baffin) Island," said Hetherington.

That's good news for Baffin residents, who have also had to rely on the extra costs of shipping their pictures to larger, southern centres.

And potential customers can rest assured. With the exception of one set of negatives that were damaged during a power outage, the processing machine and staff are capable of producing good quality photographs.

"People are pleased," said Hetherington.