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The Art of Film

The Art of Film

The Art of Film


Keeping the craft alive.

Photography: Dan Marsh (Bayou Film) and Alexander Knorr

We had the pleasure of chatting with Byron’s best film developer Dan Marsh about his passions, film and his latest business venture, Bayou film lab. You’re probably wondering what the hell Bayou means… well, a quick google search reads

‘a marshy-lake or wetland’ and an obvious branding choice when your last name is Marsh. Pronounced by-you, this spontaneous business idea has now been operating for 12 months in the buzzing heart of Byron Bay’s industrial estate.


Welcome to Bayou Film.
Born and bred in Melbourne, Dan’s first exposure to photography was in high school where a fully equipped dark room was accessible. His first ever camera being his mother’s ‘crappy’ point and shoot, Dan would always take it with him and snap his friends as they rode around the streets of their neighbourhood.
This was the start of an evolving deep love for shooting and saw him later studying photography at University where he carved his niche in film and fell in love with the process. But, just like most things, life got in the way and other hobbies, work and passions evolved and became higher on the priority list. It wasn’t until a few years later that he picked up a camera again and captured the essence of his largest adventure yet, an arduous bike ride across Australia.
This all came about when he read an article about a man who rode through Baja, California Peninsula via bicycle with surfboards strapped and the driving force of freedom. Dan was instantly inspired. From the injection of inspiration to actually getting wheels in motion, there were 3 years of working tirelessly to pay off debts and save enough cash to fund the trip, but 3 years later it was time to set sail.
Starting in Melbourne, Dan rode along the coast to Adelaide then passed through Barossa Valley and the Flinders Ranges before undertaking the defiant Oodnadatta Track, 620kms of legendary outback. Finally making his way to the original endpoint of Lake Eyre, there was a thought of ‘why ride halfway across the country and stop?’ so he didn’t.
Dan rode his way up through the centre of Australia across to Cairns to meet his girlfriend. Michelle flew from Melbourne with her bike to continue the ride together, originally heading back for Melbourne, with a few stops along the way. With a planned 3-month stopover in the creative whirlpool that is Byron, Dan and Michelle now reside and work full time in Byron, running Bayou Film after hours. 
At 5:30 each morning, Dan is up eating breakfast and getting ready to head out the door and go to work as a qualified Carpenter. When 3 pm rolls around, it’s time to pack up the tools and head for Sea Bones store in Byron where he collects the rolls of film from that day that have been dropped off by customers, ready for development.
One of the many ways Dan makes it so accessible to anyone who wants to get out there shooting! Arriving at the lab means checking the literal drop box out the front, where anyone can swing past3 and securely deposit their rolls for Dan to get to work on that night! Finding a line between business and own self-sanity, Dan and Mich usually draw the Bayou work line at 8 pm (most nights) so they can eat, get a good night’s rest and enjoy time together.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting Dan you’d understand his humble response when we asked him, why shoot film? Simply because he loves the process. For him it’s not just about being a photographer, it’s the whole experience from shooting - processing - printing and manipulating film to create amazing photos. He explained that once you get to the level of understanding how your camera works, how to read the light and find a subject that you want to shoot, you end up being confident in pressing that button each time.
And that’s a really epic feeling especially when photography has come such a long way since the very first discovery of a camera obscura. This was when someone was in a completely dark room with just a tiny hole in the door which let in the light and projected an image on the walls of what was outside. The small hole in the door acted as (what we now call) a lens and portrayed an upside-down image. As this technique progressed onto multiple mediums, the first camera was born.
The cameras we use now have lenses that act as the ‘tiny hole’ allowing us to adjust how much light we let in which then reflects and bounces off a pentaprism (series of mirrors) within the camera, turning the image the correct way up. With the evolution of cameras and photo making Dan had always had a dream of opening a space that allowed him to share his skill and knowledge to not only service the community but to build one around it.
With an impressive regular customer base, Bayou still has plenty of new customers each week dropping off more and more rolls of film. Operating through word-of-mouth, Bayou has fallen into a purist way of advertising due to the lack of time they have to focus on advertising. Dan explained to us that he felt a little overwhelmed when they first opened from not having prior experience in running a business.
So, he focused on the few things he believed in - to run a good business through exceptional customer service and high-quality products, this is why people come back. “Just being able to give people my time is what makes us busy enough to not have to advertise.” And so, this theory quickly became the business mission & ethos.
Dan and Michelle now run workshops at Bayou where anyone can learn anything from finding a camera that suits you, to understand what film you need, to processing all of your own photos by hand. With money being the last motive, these workshops are run on the first priority of teaching people how to enjoy and understand this art medium that is such an integral part of Dan’s expressional life.
He understands that he cannot teach people how to take a good photo as everyone will build their own style, but he can give people the skill set through facilitating a space for anyone at any level to come and learn.
Through this business venture, Dan has created a growing community whether he knows it or not. The many ways he makes it so incredibly accessible for anyone and everyone to enjoy the slow beautiful process of shooting film is another reason he is respected.
His authenticity can be seen and felt in everything, from each image he processes, to sitting and having a beer with him, you can’t help but label him as a true legend. The legend behind Bayou Film.  
Want to learn more or score a spot at the next workshop?