“The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do.” – Andy Warhol
By far, one of my favorite classes in college was my Introduction to Photography class I took my junior year. For all intensive purposes, it was a darkroom photography class where we used 35mm black and white film exclusively. Even though it was a “Fine Art” class at my university and that most of those classes are thought not to be a “time-suck”, this was one of the most time consuming classes I took during my college career. The class itself was held about six hours a week and we were required to develop prints in the darkroom for at least three hours a week on top of that- and all this time didn’t include the time I took to travel around California and Arizona to take pictures. All in all, regardless of the time commitment and cost of supplies, the class made it clear that photography will always be big part of who I am.
Despite this particular class being a 10-15 hour part time job in of itself, it was a way for me to escape from a lot of the stresses I had at the time: being a sorority president, working in IT, having a full course load, and figuring out what the heck I wanted to do after graduation. All important things, and things that were not bad in any sense. It was just nice to get a little escape every now and then.
“To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
There was something about walking into the safe-lighted room and getting my film set up to make prints. There was something about watching the prints develop under the orange-y light, as corny as that may sound. There was something about tinkering with exposure and burning/dodging a print to get it just right. There was something more than meeting a requirement for graduation or making a grade.
There was something about the meticulous way you have to make prints that really made me proud of what I made and the time I dedicated to it.
It’s a little sad that darkroom photography is really hard to come by these days and that it’s mostly become a dying art form with the advent of instant cameras at the touch of our fingertips on our phones, our computers, and with digital cameras. The chemicals to set up your own darkroom at home are hard to come by and pretty pricey because the practice has become a “vintage novelty”-kind of thing.
Despite all of that, this photographer will be building a little darkroom in her house someday- no question about that.