Darkrooms, Music & Coffee


The other day I read a story about the evolution of the darkroom, where the author claimed going from a “wet” process to “digital” has caused many a photographer to miss out on the joys of music and creation?
What was this guy talking about? Decades ago I had a job as a process cameraman. Way before Macs took over the printing world, copy and art had to be photographed onto Line Film via a “Process Camera” which is essentially equated to me showing up to work at 7 am and standing inside a darkroom until 6 pm everyday, imagine that the camera back was inside the darkroom so that made me the camera’s auto-winder.

I would…
1. Load the copy outside on the copy board.
2. Expose the 24 x 36 inch piece of Kodak or Fuji Line Film.
3. Develop each sheet manually in trays, Fix and then line dry.
4. Repeat this drill about 100 times a day.
I had a radio yes, but I had to play it very low and headphones were not an option because it seemed like every 2 minutes somebody had a another rush job for me to photograph so I needed to be able to hear them as they pounded on the darkroom door over the noise of my quite radio and the vacuum back of the camera which held the film in place very loudly. 2 years ago I took a 35 mm Black & White film course at OCC OK so now 2 decades later the iPod has been invented so I can play music as loud as I want, no one had a rush job for me, I could be as creative with my exposures, development and printing as I wanted to be.
But you know what I found out?
It still sucked, it was still boring, my fingers still smelled like chemicals, the process still takes to long, could not be paused and still will never be precisely measured…
My darkroom now, I can drink coffee without it tasting like developer or fix, I can plug into the entire world of music, my beautiful wife can walk right into my darkroom without exposing any film, I can pause the entire process at anytime – case in point: I walked Christi to her car, said goodbye. Shaved, showered and got dressed, took a phone call from a client then responded to to an email, started to shut down the computer and then remembered I was doing this…
Had this been a “wet” traditional darkroom? Right now I would have had a very black piece of film or print paper and would have to start all over again.
I will take a digital darkroom over a “wet” darkroom any day.


7 Responses to “Darkrooms, Music & Coffee”

  1. Jonny-Ri Says:

    Amen to that brotha! Hell no I aint developing and processing 1200 shots from a wedding in a wet room. Lightroom is my friend.

  2. BUSH Says:

    godbless the digital darkroom

  3. Adam Says:

    Nice story Grandpa.

    Seriously though…I am willing to never shoot film again. I know that it’s very hip to stay analog here, but dude…I am not that skilled and Adobe makes me look like I am.

  4. wastefulspace Says:

    thanks for the interesting story.
    since i wasn’t exposed to any of the wet darkroom days, I would really like to try developing old school style, just for the feel of it. Especially black and whites 😀

    thanks for the comment on my wordpress ;D

  5. stefani Says:

    I have little experience in a wet darkroom in comparison, but I whole heartedly agree. Nice setup you have there!

  6. Daley Hake Says:


  7. randy Says:

    I always thought the darkroom was cool, but then again i didnt spend as much time as it seems you did. Probably compairable to about a week of your work back then im sure.

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