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The Importance of the Darkroom In Photographic Education

By: Kim Weston

Let me tell you a story... A six year old kid walked into his father's darkroom, his father had some work for him to do.

The entry to this thing called a dark room was entered threw a large wooden door then a green tarp that I was soon to learn was to keep the light out. The door was shut and the large army surplus tarp was pushed over the door. Some magical ritual, I guessed may be more to keep things in more than keeping something out.

My father then set out pouring things in black tanks, mixing stuff that came from a large cardboard container, a round thing he poured the crystals into. I was asked to stir it. As I stirred it he said, "touch the container" and as I did my hand became so cold. How fascinating! We had turned warm water into cold. There were three containers one, he said, was developer, one short stop and mine was the fix. He was going to develop 4x5 sheets of film. My job was, when he put the film into my tank, to tank each piece of film that was connected to a wire hanger and slowly move it to the opposite end of the tank. And then back again. He told me that this was to be done in total darkness. I remember the total excitement of the darkness the musty smell of the old tarp to the running water, then the lights going out and it was just me and my dad in the darkness.

The importance of black and white photography is that there is a beginning and an end. A foundation to work from. With out this, we can flounder in Photoshop...

Kim Weston
Kim Weston is an accomplished Fine Art, Black and White photographer and the son of Cole Weston. Kim and his wife Gina live in his grandfather Edward Weston's original home at Wildcat Hill in Carmel, CA, built in 1938. Kim learned photography by watching his father, Cole, printing Edward Weston's negatives. He was also fortunate enough to work with his uncle Brett for 15 years as an assistant, learning about all aspects of photography and darkroom construction.