The title suggests I can’t do DIY which is not entirely true. I have been known to wield a hammer from time to time but while the results are functional they’re not particularly pretty. However, my stubborn hubris was no match for the skills necessary to convert my storage space into my new darkroom. If this resonates then this article is for you. On the other hand If you’re one of “those” people who can put up shelves and shit then you can just go ahead and read this with smug abandon.
I’m ashamed to say it’s been many years since I developed a film or went near a proper darkroom. I say ashamed because from secondary school onwards photography was my passion.
I did GCSE photography at school way back in 1988 and managed to convince my parents that photography college was the way to go and that they should finance me. So off to Barking College of Technology I went and from there into a career in medical photography.
Since last year I had this box with 50 sheets of Ilfospeed Multigrade paper in 40x50cm, (16×20 inch), but only one fitting developer tray. So with a lot of time on my hands in the last weeks I thought why not make some larger prints of the images I took last summer on Omaha beach. Not inclined to spend 100 Euros or so for the two needed further trays my idea was to get a pair of those clear plastik containers from Ikea, but they were closed like everybody else.
I’ve been shooting film since the late 90s; my father bought me a quirky little National 35 when I was thirteen. But I started darkroom printing just a year and a half ago, in autumn 2018. What took me so long? Two misconceptions, mainly – that it’s expensive, and that it’s difficult.
In fact, it turns out that setting up a basic darkroom need not be expensive. In this, the first of a five-part series on printing black-and-white photographs in a darkroom, I want to illustrate just how cheap it can be – how, through a combination of eBay deals and some dubious hacks, I built a makeshift but fully-functional darkroom in a small flat for a grand total of £92.50… and how you can too (clickbaity but true!)