darkroom girl

Monday, September 28, 2015

Tonight is my last shift at Newspace.

It’s not really a big thing, in theory. But tonight I was mixing a hypoclear wash for someone, and it struck me that this is a part of my identity. Not Newspace—but analog photography. That old friend, the darkroom. It’s like this thread that strings through everything and connects me back to my fourteen year old self. And even though I haven’t been regularly using one since I was in school (minus my yearly roll of black and white 220) I’ve always been around one.

I had this moment tonight where I thought about that—how I’m the girl who learned darkroom photography and knows how to mix the chemicals and has an agitation method and can develop a roll of film without reading the instructions. I’m no darkroom expert. I mean, you guys, I never even do anything fancy. No dodging. No burning. No multiple filter printing. And I fucking hate the zone system. But I know how to change an enlarger lens. I can tell when water is 68° by feel. I can navigate the darkroom before the safe light kicks on. I was trained to do a hypo bath and an hour long wash. And I’ll never fall out of love with that smooth, velvet black.

Now, I will be a girl who once used a darkroom. Maybe I’ll still come by to develop that roll of 220. I’ll reminisce about the smell of fixer on my hands. I’ll fall into that same agitation method.

It doesn’t really matter that I won’t be pouring chemistry back into those brown bottles once a week. It doesn’t, but it does. It’s like cutting that last tiny hair of a thread that connects me to that girl. And maybe she was a ghost anyways, just a pale shadow of someone I used to be. Now she’ll just vanish entirely and I’ll go on. Still an analog photographer. Just not one who uses a darkroom.

In tribute, here are some images from that most recent annual roll of 220.

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