The Importance of the Darkroom In Photographic Education

By: Richard Garrod

Traditional "wet" darkrooms have always been, and still are, the best place for beginning photographers to learn basic techniques for nurturing and producing elegant tonalities in black and white photography. It provides a direct hands on experience for the photographer when he can see the immediate results in the trays of chemistry after making his decisions for exposing and developing his images. The necessary changes and modifications in exposure and development that may be required to meet the ultimate objectives for the image can then be more clearly reached and observed through further adjustments of the chemical process.

As photographers continue with their studies, they will have an opportunity to learn a number of techniques for controlling print tonalities, besides the customary dodging and burning, including contrast reduction masks, dodge and burn masks, chemistry modifications, and many other techniques.

The time in the darkroom is an intense process, much like the alchemical processes of old, where the ultimate goal was a combination of both product and change in the alchemist and, in this case, the Black and White darkroom artist.

In this age of technology, where we are constantly staring at monitors, work in the darkroom with a hands-on-process can be a pleasant relief for many people.

Richard Garrod
Mr. Richard Garrod of Monterey, California, is one of the Monterey area's most prolific and dedicated photographers. His beautiful black and white images are an essential part of Monterey's historic photographic legacy, and his life is intertwined with many of the area's most notable artists. Mr. Garrod has been a cohort and traveling companion to Brett Weston, a close friend to Wynn and Edna Bullock, and a dedicated student of Minor White and Ansel Adams.