Parenting & Printing

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by MurrayMinchin, Jun 10, 2005.

  1. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    I don't know why (actually I think I do...this isn't the place to talk about such things) but since my daughter was born 3 1/2 years ago, everytime I was in the darkroom it felt to me as if I was turning my back on her...ignoring her needs...like I was missing out on experiencing her discovery of things...missing chances to discover aspects of this world that only her fresh eyes at that precise moment of cognitive development could be aware of...like I was shutting a door between her needs/expanding awareness and my wants.

    At 3 1/2 years old she got the legs to jump a major hurdle for the both of us. When I'm in the darkroom now, she knows that she can knock on the door anytime and come in for a visit. If I have a print in the developer, no problem, she knows that in about 10 minutes I'll come and get her and she can make more photograms of her hands, make the enlarger go BEEP, or agitate some prints in the holding tray...PRETTY COOL STUFF!

    This next week I'll get her to start collecting leaves and flowers for when she visits Daddy in the darkroom and we can start making photograms of things she's picked herself...this way, she can plan ahead about how much fun it'll be.

    Before my daughter, I could spend 16 hours at a time printing (I have the most understanding partner/girlfriend/wife) and could have never imagined somebody breaking my concentration mid-printing session. Now I know if my daughter comes down for a visit, it totally clears my conscience and she knows her Daddy hasn't closed a door between the two of us. A HUGE WEIGHT HAS BEEN LIFTED FROM MY SHOULDERS. In fifteen minutes she's back upstairs knowing she can visit me again anytime, and that she'll be able to surprise Mommy later with a new photogram which, "I made all by myself...with a little bit of help from Daddy".

    Actually...ironically...I think my printing has improved more this last 6 months because I know darkroom time is relatively rare, cannot be squandered, and my attention gets focused.

    How have you delt with the parenting/printing dilemma? How old are your Kids? What have you learned?

    Murray
     
  2. blackmelas

    blackmelas Subscriber

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    Hi Murray
    I understand exactly what you are feeling. I have an 18 month old daughter and I too feel quite guilty when I spend extra time in the darkroom. Consequently I wait until she has gone to bed during the work week to go into the darkroom or during the weekend I overlap my darkroom time with one of her naps. And yes, an understanding spouse is essential for keeping that schedule. I love that you are showing your daughter that photography is fun and I anxiously await being able to share with mine.
    Best of luck,
    James
     
  3. mmcclellan

    mmcclellan Subscriber

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    Murray,

    How nice to find a person who TOTALLY has their priorities in order! I think your approach is wonderful and laudable -- if your prints are better, it's because your spirit is soaring and God is blessing you for doing things right. Nice going, man!
     
  4. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    My kids are a 4 and 6, so I print usually when they are at school, but time is limited, so as you say my sessions are focussed! My son came in once to visit, and got bored! He promptly left when I had a print in the stop bath!! ACK! Luckily, the door to the darkroom opens to a fairly dark basement, and the print was face down so no fogging.

    I like the idea of photograpms, I hadnt' thought of it! With summer coming, they will be home more, so I'll have to bring them in to make some! We also plan to make pinhole cameras this summer! If I can't get into the darkroom, and we're out on a summer day... well, I start focussing my camera on them!!
     
  5. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    my oldest son (6) knows to knock and wait, the youngest (3) hasn't got it quite figured out, so he does what he's seen his mother do, leans down to the intake vent in the door and yells :smile: Both like coming in and rocking trays, turning the enlarger on and off, etc. I did a photogram of the oldest hand once which he thought was prity nifty... will have to collect some leaves too!
     
  6. Struan Gray

    Struan Gray Member

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    My kids drove me to the dark side. Cycling in to use my work darkrooms was simply impossible to reconcile with the sort of father I want to be, and I now print d*g*t*lly. The kids are now 4,4 and nearly 2 and despite occasionally having had my hands in far more noxious fluids than dektol, I can't say I regret the decision. The gum printing can wait for my retirement, and Sun Prints are all set for the summer.
     
  7. matt miller

    matt miller Subscriber

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    I like using the darkroom to be able to get away for a while. While my daughters (12, 8, & 2) know that they're always welcome there, they don't come down much because it's "boring". That's fine with me. I enjoy the solitude. There's family time & there's me time. A balance is healthy; although I usually only get into the darkroom about 4 hours a month.
     
  8. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    I have two dauhgters 9 and 5. When they newborns and toddlers I simply had to do my printing when they were asleep or when mom kept them occupied for a couple of hours.

    At age 5 I got my now 9 year old interested in photography, so she can either help in the darkroom or knows that I need time to myself to print.
    My current 5 year old loves to spend time in the darkroom watching me print, agitating trays, putting prints in the wash etc. So try to get them involved in some way.

    From the film development end, I found my JOBO to be a real help. You only need a couple of minutes of dark time to load film and after that you have the time the JOBO runs you can be doing homebody things.
     
  9. joeyk49

    joeyk49 Member

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    Murray:

    I think you've got a good assistant in training there...

    Next, teach her how to load and unload your cameras, bulk load or LF cassettes and take her out with you when shooting. You're developing a very neat little connection with your little one that will be special for years to come. Who knows, you may have just hooked another future APUGer...

    Try to remember these times when she's a teen and doesn't want to have anything to do with Mom or Dad...

    Stay the course, your doing fine.
     
  10. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    Thanks everyone for understanding my need to vent a bit. I know what I'm feeling is as old as the hills, but its nice to know there are others out there who are experiencing something similar.

    How old should a child be before they start dry mounting and cutting mats..?

    Murray
     
  11. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    Murray, I can empathise. Every since I gave birth to my children I have never stopped feeling guilty and/or worried about anything and everything I do and what effect it may have on my children. Those feelings will be with me for the rest of our lives. Involve, understand, respect, love and enjoy.
    Kind regards, Nicole
     
  12. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    good god, Murray, if you can get them to do that then you can start renting them out! I for one hate the task of framing :smile:
     
  13. sbuczkowski

    sbuczkowski Member

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    I did both for the first time when I was 9. My 5 year old daughter has tried cutting a mat but doesn't quite have the strength yet to really get through 4-ply board. Maybe when she's 6....

    She does do a great job cleaning glass when I'm framing.

    Back to the original topic, I haven't spent much time in a darkroom printing since before my daughter was born, but I had the same dilemma/feelings about going out to burn film and leaving my new family behind. The solution was simple and no different than what you have done: let them be involved. My daughter often accompanies me on walks around the yard looking for flowers and bugs to photograph. When she finds something, she gets to take the first frame, or two (one of these days, I'll teach her about focussing.....). She's sat in the bathroom/darkroom and helped me measure out chemicals and develop negs. She loves it, and I'm quite fond of it too.

    And, that because of her exposure to film she doesn't come running over after I take a picture asking if she can see it on the screen: priceless!
     
  14. KenS

    KenS Member

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    Many moons ago, when my daughter was just over three, I had to babysit while my wife went out to visit a friend… but I also had about a dozen prints to make for a free-lance job that were to be picked up later in that evening. I took my daugher into the darkroom and sat her up on the bench near the developer tray and watch “the magic” as the images appeared.

    The next afternoon I arrived home at the front door… there was water, with a few mounds of soapsuds all over the front step, surrounding three large baking bowls. On entering the house I asked my wife about “the mess” out front. She took a big breath and told me that she had been invited next door for a cup of tea with the neighbour in the condominium unit next door, leaving my daughter to play out front with her toys.

    On returning to our house after about an half hour, she was greeted by the sight of my daughter, soaking wet, sitting on the front step surrounded by the aforementioned bowls, a mass of soapsuds, a variety of wax crayons, numerous sheets of sopping wet sheets of 8 1/2 X11 inch paper torn from a pad.

    She inquired as to what was “going on” and was offered the answer… as my daughter grabbed the pad, carefully chose the correct crayon, scribbled on the paper, separated the top sheet from the pad and deftly slopped the “new” sheet of paper through the three bowls of soapy water with more than just adequate agitation. She then turned her face to her mother and then, with a proud smile, declared

    “My making pictures…. just like daddy!”

    I really wished I had been there to get that on film.

    A year or so later she thoroughly enjoyed the responsibilities of pressing the exposure button and moving the prints from the first wash tray to the second.

    It has only been in the past year or so that she has started making photographs for herself.

    Ken
     
  15. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    My father has been doing photography for many years, since before I was born and still continues, so I just wanted to share the perspective from the point of view of the parented one.

    I can't really recall when my father started letting me in his darkroom, but I know I was below 8. At that time we lived in a house with enough empty space at the second floor for it to be used as a play room, and his darkroom was just besides. When friends came over we would always invent stories about how we could make explosions by mixing all the chemicals we saw on the shelves...

    For me the most fascinating part was the subdued atmosphere: the red light, the smell of chemicals, the intervals of light and darkness and the quiet work. I loved washing the prints in the large tray, and I could play for hours in the running water. All the funny equipement to wash, develop, mix, etc amused me to no end, and it was like playing the little mad scientist.

    The image aspect of the craft didn't appeal to me until a much later age; the term "adult" does not necessarily apply to touch subject matter, but rather to how relevant it is to someone at a specific age. For me photography is an "adult" art and you appreciate it more fully as an adult.
     
  16. Clueless

    Clueless Member

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    I remember as if it were yesterday, when my daughter stood on my foot and held my leg in the darkroom...
     
  17. Tammyk

    Tammyk Member

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    OMG, you guys are gonna make me cry. Such sweet stories. I can imagine the little girl soaking wet, with crayon in hand, making prints! wow.

    I have 3 kids, and I work full time. My 2 littlest ones are 2 and 4, and oldest is 13. I cannot get my oldest interested. She too, is bored in the darkroom.

    I do all my darkroom work at night when they are asleep. I also never seem to have enough time. I resign to the fact that my darkroom, also being a bathroom, washroom and laundry room, is very busy otherwise.
    I also get about 3 hours of sleep on the nights I decide to work, so it can be a bit of a sacrifice.

    I do feel guilty, as someone else mentioned, about going places to take photos. I don't get out to do this often since it means another whole day away from the family, and I'm unwilling to bring 2 toddlers and a bored teenager with me. I manage to take every other Friday off work and try to use it for photo outings. This has been a real great joy for me.

    By the way- my mother and I used to go shooting together and we worked in a darkroom together when I was about 13 or so. I feel this is a real great opportunity for bonding with your children. I have great memories of those days.
     
  18. argus

    argus Member

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    I hope to talk along from next year on, as my partner is expecting our first baby :cool: :smile:

    I hope to get her (or him, according to Elke) involved in photography. That will not be a problem anyway: the child will be a model from the day it sees the light.

    G
     
  19. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    An update - the plan worked!

    When I got home from work, we went into the backyard for about an hour to romp around for a bit. Then I explained how you can put leaves, flowers and stuff on the paper instead of your hands and make a photogram that way. She picked clover and grass. Then we headed for the darkroom to set up. (He He He, I normally set up after dinner!)

    As she was moving her stuff around on the paper she said, "this is going to be a nice design"...(She's 3 1/2...Daddy is so proud!)..."it's a spider web trap".

    Partway through the exposure she started to move some of the flowers and leaves. I was going to stop her but then thought, what the heck - it's her design. It turned out really cool because the ones that got moved early came out as about print value II; very mysterious.

    After dinner and bath time I waltzed into the darkroom and hit the ground running, as everything was set to go. She's happy and I have no guilt. I like it!

    Murray

    P.S. This is probably bad...(please don't report me)...but a while back I let her get a good sniff of selenium toner diluted 1:10...now when I'm doing negatives, really deep into making masks or printing, all I have to say is that I'm going to be using "the stinky chemicals" and she steers well clear of the darkroom.
     
  20. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I had a very similar experience the other night. I had to get some prints made, and my husband was out at a meeting for the evenng. Set the darkroom up just after dinner, and let them make some photograms. Then up to the bath and bed.

    About ten minutes later my six year-old came down to the darkroom... you know "I'm not tired"! I let him rock the trays, for about two prints. Then he looked pretty sleepy, so back up we went, and to sleep!! The photograpms are still wet, but I'll scan and post them here when they are dry. I'd love to see your daughter's, too!

    What's the going rate for six year-old photo assistants?
     
  21. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    It sounds like you've got it made Suzanne - he just needed to know that even though the darkroom door was shut he could still see you, and more importantly, that it's OK with you. At 3 1/2 my daughter's too young to be left alone like that until she's asleep...if my wife leaves the house and I'm in the darkroom, that's when the baby monitor (great little invention) gets turned on.

    I hope Sean never starts a thread for "Spouces/Partners/Children of APUG'ers"...our obsession demands much from those around us!

    Murray

    P.S. Nicole's, "Involve, understand, love, respect and enjoy"...WISE WORDS!