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March 2009


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These deadpan mugshots of darkrooms in London, by photographer Richard Nicholson, brought forth feelings of nostalgia in me, reminding me of time I have spent in other darkrooms. I have especially fond memories of these:

The cramped under-the-stairs darkroom in a neighbour’s house in Dorking in Surrey, UK, where I made prints to show at meetings of the Ockley, Capel & District Camera Club.

The darkroom I made in my bedroom at home, with Masonite blackout panels over the windows, where I made prints for a school magazine.

The pleasure of using a Leitz Focomat enlarger in a darkroom in a certain government department in Brisbane, through the kindness of the father of a friend at university.

The chaotic darkroom at the Architectural Association in London, where I printed photos for my travelling companion Jon Parker. That’s Jon’s Olympus Pen half-frame camera I’m holding in this picture.

The old caravan I converted into a darkroom, equipped with a Leitz Valoy enlarger, and dragged from house to house in the 1970s.

Enough of my reminiscences. Here is part of Richard Nicholson’s explanation of his project:

This project, shot on 4"x5" film, documents London’s remaining professional darkrooms. It is based on my nostalgia for a dying craft (there are no young printers). It is in these rooms that printers have worked their magic, distilling the works of photographers such as David Bailey, Anton Corbijn and Nick Knight into a recognisable ‘look’.
Bob and Terry’s darkroom, from Richard Nicholson’s documentation of the last remaining professional darkrooms in London.

Postscript: On the Guardian website is a short video about this project.

filed under England + Photography


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