View Full Version : Public darkroom closure

08-15-2011, 09:51 AM
Does anyone know of any "public" darkrooms in northern New Jersey? The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey closed theirs.

I first learned of VAC's public darkrooms about six years ago in a photography chatroom, and two years later I was able to stop by to check out the Center.

Four years later, I checked out their website this past weekend, and did not find anything regarding these darkrooms, so I send them an email inquiring about them.

I received a response from Bruce Lyons, Communications & Marketing Manager for the Center in Summit, NJ (http://www.artcenternj.org). His response: "We no longer have darkrooms as we now only offer classes in digital photography and Photoshop."

While I'm aware Photoshop can be used to turn digitally-captured images into works of art, "analog" capture (i.e., film) is still very much a viable medium. I think the Center's knee-jerk reaction by closing their darkrooms is step in the wrong direction. (Because of this, I may avail myself of their Photoshop instruction.)

I don't want to enroll in a course at the local community college, County College of Morris (www.ccm.edu) just to have access to the darkroom; this isn't an option for me.

It is a sad day, indeed.

Dieter Zakas

Worker 11811
08-15-2011, 10:16 AM
Regardless of one's preference for digital or traditional photography, the fundamentals of photography are best learned in the darkroom.

Yes, one can learn how to make photographs using only digital means but the purpose of an educational institution is to increase the students' KNOWLEDGE of a subject. To truly gain knowledge of how to use an manipulate light to make an image, one needs to actually work directly with light to make images.

If a learning institution simply wants to have a "photography" course for the student's recreational benefit, a course in digital photography is all right but, if they want to teach the art and science of photography, they are not serving their students well by having only digital.

The college where I work has moved on to teaching, predominantly, digital photography but they still maintain a darkroom and the prerequisite for entry into the digital classes is one course in traditional, black and white photography.

I understand the desire to teach and concentrate on digital photography but I think an ART SCHOOL should be teaching ALL forms of photography, not just digital.

Jeff Kubach
08-15-2011, 10:36 AM
A couple of darkrooms closed in Richmond Va.:(


08-15-2011, 10:47 AM
This is a disturbing trend, and I've seen it happen here as well. However, I would suggest to anyone interested in doing darkroom work to build themselves a darkroom. There are lots of equipment out there that's being given away, either for free or cheap enough. From the standpoint of anyone wanting to learn about darkroom work, their options are dwindling unless someone streps up to the plate and offers help on a one to one basis. What I sense from the younger photographers here is that they have a deep appreciation for the results film can offer, seeing the craft as a bit of a "lost art" discourages many from investing the time and energy into really learning the process. Let's face it, the digital work flow fits into the life and style of many photographers. I have a darkroom, have offered to build a community darkroom here and in other places, and not had much luck drumming up enough interest. I loan out film cameras, 35mm, medium format as well as large format, have taken folks out on shoots and taught them how to use large format, develop film, and print. We lost one of the great teachers just recently and I fear that the ranks of people out there willing to be proactive with promoting darkroom work is dwindling. If you know it, pass it on.