What I've Learned in the Darkroom

If you follow my Instagram stories then you are well aware of the darkroom classes I've been taking. I signed up to take a six week class starting in January. I very quickly fell in love with all of it. So when that class was over, I signed up for another class. That one ended. And sure enough, I signed up for another one. 

The thought of not having weekly access to a darkroom was actually making me sad. The darkroom is one of the coolest places on earth. And I love creating. 

silver gelatin print

I didn't take photography in high school or college - so this was the first time I ever stepped foot in a darkroom. I had also never developed my own film. I always assumed it was something I needed a darkroom space to do, so never looked into it. Well, thanks to this class, I'll now be developing my own black and white at home - and hopefully color later this year. 

I wanted to gather my thoughts about the darkroom, so here they are. Four things I learned in the darkroom. 

1. Light. Photography is about light. And so is printing. The length of time the paper is exposed to light. The intensity of the light. And distance of light. Obvious, right? Well there's something about getting feedback (the print) almost immediately to solidify that. The darkroom has shutter-speed, aperture, and ISO just like a camera. And when I realized that I had my AHA moment! 

2. You can do everything perfectly in camera. Shutter, exposure, aperture. Everything. And still need darkroom editing. Sometimes, a print needs some umph. Dodging, burning, or both. 

darkroom print with dodging

3. The more mistakes or near-misses you make, the more in love with the print you'll be. I didn't move on from an image until I was 100% happy with my print. So yes, I have eight or more very similar looking prints of some photos. But I wanted to perfect that print, dammit. So I worked at it until I made it. And I love them. 


4. Nothing. Absolutely nothing can compare to shooting, developing, and printing your own image. To be hands-on from start to finish is the best feeling as a creator. 

self developed black and white darkroom print