One year ago, the university where photographer Philip Grey works decided to bring the shutters down on the ‘wet’ photography course he’s taught for years and to dismantle their darkroom.
“I was asked if I was interested in taking the equipment off their hands,” he says. “I thought about this for all of about thirty seconds.”
Grey grew up with analogue photography. “I was taking my first photographs in the 70s and was introduced to the darkroom while working in a Youth Hostel after leaving school. I was fascinated by the process and spent all my spare time either shooting film or developing it. I then went on to study the subject at college and developed a successful career as a freelance photographer and lecturer in photography.”
Forty years after picking up his first camera, he found himself with a storage unit full of equipment that was suddenly back in demand.
With a small team in place, Grey now wants to support the revival of interest in the “alchemical experience” of printing film by creating a well-equipped workshop for enthusiasts.
Setting up a darkroom is “an expensive business”, he says. “It requires dedicated space – and this is where we come in.”
It will also offer courses to teach basic photographic skills, darkroom techniques and more advanced specialist processes.Down the line there’ll be an outreach programme that will enable youngsters and community groups to have access to the possibilities of traditional photographic practices.
Work is about to begin to transform the workshop in Camden into an open-access facility that will be open to photographers of all abilities.
To fund this they have created a crowdfunder campaign, which offers backers a range of photography-related rewards, or the opportunity to forward-fund membership, plus the chance to dip their toes into the darkroom experience with a taster session.
Sound like your thing? You should definitely get involved as there’s only just over a week left to hit the target. And sadly we’ve just heard that the Tottenham warehouse fire destroyed a storage unit owned by the team.
So, says Philip, “the need to meet our crowdfunding target has now become even more imperative as we now need to replace this valuable lost equipment.”