Parenting & Printing
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?
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,
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!
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!!
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 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!
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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.
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.
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.
"Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
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.
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..?