What Happens In The Darkroom Stays In The Darkroom

I miss the darkroom.  Some great images were made by some talented photo printers.  In the heyday of Photoworks we had as many as eight darkrooms, color and black and white.  The smell of fixer permeated the building as contact sheets and hand printed enlargements were produced behind closed doors.  This was a fruitful time in the lab, and there was more in the air aside from chemicals .  That’s right, romance was alive and well in the analog world.   So here’s another reason to like film….the darkroom illuminated by only a red safety light is conducive to lovin’, whereas your Mac is well, why do you think they call it a laptop?

People always seem to hookup at work, and this company has spawned many relationships.   One day I got a wedding invitation in the mail from two of my staff, both darkroom printers.  I didn’t even know they were a couple.  I asked them where they met, and smiling coyly they said, “in the darkroom.”  I designed the darkrooms so that as many as three printers could occupy one room, but I did not envision the other “possibilities.”  In the movie Annie Hall, Woody Allen trying to create the perfect mood, adds a red light bulb to his bedside lamp telling Annie, “now we can go about our business and develop photographs at the same time.”  On the other side of the coin we’ve had our fair share of dramas play out in the darkroom as well.  I almost had to break down the door once to break up a fight as the sound of broken beakers could be heard from the street.

Then we have the home darkroom, which is intended for a completely different purpose, a place where my Dad would hide out from my Mother.  He had a little mini bar and shot glass on the shelf by the photoflow.  So, as usual I am nostalgic for the old days….. developer, fixer, photoflow, and perfume.  We still have one darkroom left at Photoworks which we use to process film.  The walls are painted black like some old rock and roll nightclub, and the graffiti on the wall says, “I’ll dodge if you burn.”

Need I say more.

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5 thoughts on “What Happens In The Darkroom Stays In The Darkroom

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Photoworks SF and valerie j. cochran, Maggie Percell. Maggie Percell said: RT @PhotoworksSF: What Happens In The Darkroom Stays In The Darkroom: http://wp.me/p4AgI-7y […]

  2. “my Dad…had a little mini bar and shot glass on the shelf by the photoflow.”

    That’s awesome!

    Really liked this story, Dave! Thanks for writing it up!

  3. aranza says:

    beautiful 🙂
    i have my darkroom stories too, i think everyone does. long live to the darkroom

  4. Tiffany says:

    This is great! I love this nostalgic piece!

  5. DAB says:

    That’s really interesting but you forget to mention the choking fits from the chemicals and for asthmatics like me the darkroom was far from romantic! I did enjoy moving the paper around in the chemicals though. Give me the digital darkroom anyday! I love Photoshop

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