Update: this workshop did not happen.

I had the idea for a workshop for a long time, and it just so happened that a fellow who runs one of these online “Meetup.com” groups for photographers (99 44/100 % digital) was interested in a workshop, so he set it up for me last year through his group.

I designed the workshop for 4-6 people. I had 5 attend last year and I also had a friend assist me, so that we had 7 people in my darkroom. It wasn’t crowded so much, but did present restricted sight lines sometimes and an excess of body heat. It seemed to go well enough, however - (see the thread linked above) When I scheduled the same thing for this year, I limited it to 4 and no assistant.

I spent the first hour or so talking about what the basics were in the way of gear and facilities to develop and print black and white. I went from the bare minimum through the fully equipped darkroom, including some “luxury items” (not needed, but nice to have). Then I developed some film, talking the group through each step. In the afternoon, I did essentially the same thing for printing, with a succession of more and different problems to solve. Nothing real exotic, just test strips, grade selection, dodging and burning, etc.

I had handouts for each participant, which consisted of my own notes, and the basic outlines of processing and printing from the Ilford website. I freely copied and used their text and graphics – but I emphasized to everyone where it came from and how they could access it themselves. I felt no need to re-invent the wheel by writing my own instructions from scratch, when Ilford has done a good job. I DID make some editorial changes – for instance, I told them NOT to use a film squeegee, even though Ilford says to. It just helped to have an outline, text and illustrations in their hand as we did things. A few took notes!

As for its success: well, that depends. I did not really reach the audience that I had envisioned. Four of the five who paid for the class had already done darkroom work, and I really did not have the class designed for them. I’m sure a couple of them learned some printing tricks, but the film developing portion probably bored them to death. Only the fifth participant was a total beginner, and she was intimidated by all the testosterone in the room from the other 4 (men) trying to show off how much they already knew.

There are some other online “film” groups in North Texas, but when they’ve mentioned doing some type of workshop, I always call their hand and it has yet to go anywhere. It’s mostly hipsters who think in terms of internet and Youtube. Their idea of a workshop is that it should only last an hour and be free! Mine is all day and costs $40-50.

The same guy who set this up last year contacted me and we set a date to do it again earlier this month. (hence, this thread announcement) He said that he had several people interested, but then only one signed up and we called it off.

I think there is a market for this, but I have yet to tap into the right “marketing”. Online groups of dslr owners and/or millennials who have been given their grandparents’ film cameras are not the market. However, if one has been asked to do this by the right number of the right people, then there is no reason why it cannot succeed. I hope to try it again in a different context.