Two Sundays ago I was at the local camera gear sale exchange, and while perusing the tables of junk and slightly less junk, I met two kind folks manning the table of the soon-to-open darkroom-cum-studio space of Photo Coop Montréal.
I chatted with Louis-Philippe Sarrazin, who is president of their Board, and he outlined the concept: in a location of the Old Montreal, there will be a full Black and White darkroom, a full Colour (C-41 and RA-4) darkroom, as well as two studio spaces with plenty of natural light, and a few computer stations for the occasional hybrid work.
Perks include: a dry to dry RA-4 wall-mounted processor, a drymounting station, full stainless steel B&W working area, workshops, studio equipment, and so on.
This is something very exciting for Montréal, because it will be the return of the darkroom equipment that belonged to the Saidye Bronfman Center for the Arts, which closed recently. I used to print my photos at the Saidye for a while because it was the only easily accessible public darkroom in Montréal (up yours, UdeM, with your complicated registration schedule!).
After the Saidye closed, I invested in some home darkroom equipment, and duly printed home, but now that I'm working almost full time, my sessions are more occasional than they used to be, because of prep and cleaning time.
This is also something very exciting for the world at large, because it is yet another proof of the viability of analog photography. Photo stores in Montréal tend to be cynical about film (I used to work in one for a short stint), but whenever I show my slides to the younger employees, they are the ones most eager to get dirty with film.
The photo Co-Op should open somewhere in 2009; right now the site is under construction, so you can imagine the imponderables these fine folks are facing. I wish them the best, and will report here on their progress.