My name is W. Parham Bridges, III. I am 55 years old, live in south Mississippi and am just getting back into the hobby after a hiatus of about 25 years (boy, have things changed!). I started in about 1971. I did my darkroom work in an interior bathroom, cramped, but dark. It wasn't long before the P.D. that I was a part of found out that I could "take pictures, and develope them, too!" I was sort of worked into an apprentice crime scene photographer... during my off-duty hours. No extra pay, just extra work. When I first started, we did everything in B&W. Crime scene photos in color were considered to be too inflammatory for a jury to see. Everything was shot on Tri X pan. The ID officer (an older Capt. who was not going to change formats for anyone) did everything in 120, and I introduced our department to 35mm. I moved all of my darkroom gear to the P.D.'s darkroom so that I could process my film in reasonable comfort. A few years later we started using color film on a trial basis, and found that we could get them introduced into evidence so B&W was eventually phased out for crimescene work. The darkroom was kept operational because the banks used 35mm film (Tri X pan) in 100' magazines for their surveillance cameras. If a bank was robbed I went to the bank, took custody of the film and took it back to the PD where I had a tank that would develope the entire 100' in one shot. I would print the best frame wet to get 15 or 20 pics of the perpetrator out on the street quickly and then re-wash the film and string it back and forth across the darkroom to dry it. Big fun! By the time that I retired (about 14 years ago) as OIC of the Detective Division; all photos were developed commercially, and the darkroom was used as a storage space. I no longer cared anything about photography, in fact would rather take a whipping than take a picture (I guess it was extreme burnout).
Anyway, enough of the ancient history. I am easing back in to the traditional method. I have an Olympus digital camera, and it is ok, but sort of leaves me cold. I also have a 4x5 Super Speed Graphic, a Hassy and a Minolta SLR film camera. I took a few pictures the other day and loved it. I don't have a darkroom yet, but that will come in time. For now, it is back to the bathroom!