Frame by Frame with TUMO Alumnus Toros

In an age largely dominated by digital convenience, there’s a growing appreciation for the tactile and tangible. Leading this analog resurgence is Toros, a nearly 26-year-old photographer, the founder of Box Photo Laboratory, and TUMO Alum from Yerevan, Armenia. As the driving force behind Boxlab, Toros has made it his mission to make analog photography both accessible and appealing, preserving its art and legacy for future generations.

The inception of Boxlab was driven by necessity and innovation. Toros identified a gap in the market for high-quality analog photo development and digitalization. “Before Boxlab, you couldn’t develop films and digitalize them easily,” he explains. A chance encounter with Viktor, another analog lover, in the university hallway marked the beginning of this venture. This shared passion laid the foundation for a thriving community around analog photography, with Boxlab hosting workshops, community engagement events, exhibitions, and open classes.

How Toros perceives education, played an unexpected yet pivotal role in his journey. Despite his initial reluctance towards traditional schooling, TUMO ignited his passion for learning. “I remember the thrill of waiting for 5:30 pm on Fridays to head to TUMO. It was more than a place—it reshaped our generation’s passion for learning, making us want to study voluntarily,” he reflects, appreciating how it made learning an enjoyable pursuit.

As his hobby became his livelihood, the joy began to fade. “When your hobby becomes work, it starts being a little uninteresting,” he admits. This disillusionment led Toros to explore new interests with the same intensity. He jumped into vinyl collecting, amassing a rich archive of Armenian Estrada (popular) records. His dive into motorcycle culture saw him meticulously restoring bikes, finding solace and excitement in these hands-on analog experiences.

Analog photography, especially for the younger crowd, lies in its nostalgic freshness and magnetism. But for Toros, it’s deeper than trends—it’s about preserving the human memory, about building a cultural legacy. He often digitizes cultural archives for free, recognizing the irreplaceable value of these memories. “We need to work on our archives and grow this industry to become a cultural thing,” he asserts. In the darkroom, with its precise setup and demanding standards, Toros finds a sanctuary. It’s a place where creativity and discipline come together, offering a distinct form of meditation and concentration.

Through Boxlab, Toros expanded his impact, now running his own workshops and leading a lab on analog photography called Analog Yerevan, at TUMO, teaching the next generation of analog fans and nurturing a community dedicated to this enduring art form. As digital continues to dominate, his work reminds us of the beauty and significance of capturing moments through a lens, developed in the quiet solitude of a darkroom.