Building the Silver and Light Darkroom

Help build a community darkroom in Chinatown, Vancouver

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It’s important to acknowledge that this project is taking place on the unceded territories of the Squamish, Tsleil-waututh, and Musqueam peoples, and on the contested site of Chinatown.

Help build a community darkroom in Chinatown, Vancouver.

There’s something magic in film photography.  When you’re printing images in a darkroom, there’s the hint of alchemy – you take light, apply it to photographic paper, and then use chemicals to reveal an image. It’s a special kind of magic that is harder and harder to find these days.

But I’m working on building a studio and darkroom in BC Artscape Sun Wah, in Vancouver’s Chinatown.  A place where you can experience the magic of film photography as well. A base to host workshops, share this experience with others, and contribute to community.

 

A community darkroom in Chinatown.

The BC Artscape Sun Wah project is building a shared art space to help arts and artists thrive in Vancouver. I'm thrilled to be part of this project, which is making available affordable space for the Silver & Light darkroom.  The room will be affordable and part of an artists' project on Keefer Street, in Vancouver.

The darkroom will be used for my personal artistic practice, but I also want it to be a place of community. If you're a film photographer in Vancouver, I will be making the space available for printing sessions. I also want to use the studio and space as a way to activate community - through workshops with local residents on shooting and developing film, through portrait sessions of seniors and families, and more.  The artists' space on Keefer Street will be built in a contested space - Chinatown - on unceded Coast Salish Territories. I want to contribute to those discussions by documenting the history, the people, the life, and creating space for people to express themselves in their ways.

What's happening.

The Silver and Light studio darkroom space will:

Be part of an arts community through BC Artscape Sun Wah.

Offer workshops and classes in the community to local residents and people interested in traditional film photography. I'm planning to be able to offer the workshops to residents of the neighbourhood free of charge.

Introduce people to the magic of film photography through hands-on experience.

Be part of celebrating what makes Chinatown special through working with local community organizations, seniors' organizations, and more.

Be available for local photographers who want to learn about film or use it for their own projects.

What's needed.

Even though the BC Artscape Sun Wah project gives us a great head start in building Silver and Light, there's still some more work needed - and some support in terms of funds.  This crowdfunding campaign is targeted for $5,000 to work towards raising:

  • Approximately $2,000 for fit-out, including a large custom sink for darkroom processing, shelving, and tables
  • Approximately $1,000 for additional darkroom equipment to support workshops and community building
  • Approximately $1,000 for photography supplies for workshops and community events
  • Approximately $1,000 for commercial insurance and legal support

The project will still go ahead without any funds raised, but it may take a little longer to get there. If more funds are raised than what's needed, they will be held in reserve to fund the supplies for community workshops.

Rewards.

I'm thrilled to offer a number of rewards to supporters - everything from a print postcard to any address in the world to hands-on workshops on film photography. You can choose from professional inkjet prints, darkroom prints (delivered after the S&L darkroom is up and running), photography workshops, or hands-on darkroom printing workshops. I'm excited to meet people interested in this art. Here's some more info about the workshops:

Prints

I'm very excited to be able to offer prints of my work at discounted prices as part of this crowdfunding event.  Depending on how much you're willing to contribute, you'll be able to get 5x7, 8x10, or 11x14 prints (these sizes refer to the paper size; the print size is slightly smaller to allow for a margin).  Prints will be available in professional inkjet prints, or full-on traditional darkroom prints - when the darkroom is up and running, of course.  Colour prints will be only available in inkjet. See the prints available, here.

You can get:

  • 5x7 prints for $100 - with an early-bird offer of $50 for the first 10.
  • 8x10 inkjet prints for $150 and darkroom prints for $200
  • 11x14 inkjet prints for $200 and darkroom prints for $300
  • Inkjet postcard prints for as low as $5

Film Development Workshop

Learn how to develop your own film - bring a roll of film that you've shot, and we'll work through how to develop it so that you have a workable set of negatives in the end. We can talk about scanning methods and also what you do with negatives in terms of proper storage.  This is perfect if you have a roll of film that's been sitting around for a while without being developed (within a few years; too long and no promises can be made) or if you've just found a camera and want to see if it works. Of course, this is also a great stepping stone back into film photography. If you want to learn how to shoot a camera you just found, then think about the next reward, too.

Film Shooting Workshop

Just found an old film camera you want to use again? Getting into film photography for the first time, or wanting to get back into it? Want to try out film photography before you make a commitment? This workshop is an excellent introduction to film photography and use of a film camera.  You can bring your own or use one of mine as a loaner.  We'll go for a walk around the neighbourhood. Bring your own film, or use a roll that I select for you.  We'll go over how to compose, meter for the light, and expose the film.  Want to develop the film? Think about the reward above, or the combined Film Shooting & Development workshop.


Medium Format Workshop

Learn hands-on the ins and outs of medium-format photography.  With roll films that measure at least 6x6cm (my preferred format is 6x7cm), they're huge in comparison to 35mm photography.  This workshop will show you how a medium format camera works, teach you how to compose and plan your shots, and develop your roll of film.  The workshop cost includes instructional time, use of a loaner camera (unless you have your own!), and instructions on developing the film.

Large Format Workshop

Film negatives can be really big as well - like 4x5 inches, or 8x10 inches, or bigger.  This workshop will introduce you to the art and science of 4x5 view camera use, including loading film holders, composing a scene (upside down and backwards), metering for the light, focusing, and exposing the sheet.  I'll process your film for you, or we can develop your film together (an additional cost required for this option).

Alternate Methods Workshop

This workshop will introduce you to an alternate method of making darkroom photos - like developing your film or prints with coffee, or cyanotypes, or something similar.  This workshop can be creative and fun - I'll poll participants in advance to sort out what kind of alternate method we'll use, and we'll go from there.

Photo by Trevor Brown on Unsplash

Introduction to your DSLR Workshop

Sure, it's not film, but it's a workshop on how to use your DSLR.  And a DSLR is a pretty good introduction to photography, and can be a great stepping stone into film.  If you've recently obtained a DSLR and want to learn how to use it, this workshop is for you. You'll starting taking better photos immediately.

Portrait Session

Whether you need a professional headshot for your LinkedIn, a new social media profile photo, or a couples' portrait, you can get it through this portrait session.  We'll take digital and film photos and you'll get digital copies of best 5 images plus one 8x10 inkjet print.

Risks.

The primary risk facing this project is delays due to my personal capacity to execute key steps like purchasing a sink or having the faucets installed. Financially, the project will continue no matter the support from community, but your help means that I can make workshops available to the local community or be part of local projects.

Notes.

If you want to support this project, you can contribute in three ways: through a PayPal account, with your credit card, or by writing a cheque. When you select your contribution level, double-check to make sure it's the correct reward, and then you'll be presented with the three options. For cheque payment, select "offline payments."

January 23 - Print Rewards

I noticed that the project page didn't have a link to the prints rewards gallery - but now it does!

In case you were wondering what kind of images you could order prints of, check out the selection here.

I'll add more images over the course of the campaign, and you don't have to lock in your selection until the end!

What is your stance on the gentrification of Chinatown?

I think that Chinatown is a very special part of Vancouver and should be protected, with support to local heritage businesses and a ban on destructive rezoning. I know that artists are only too often the first wave of gentrification and while I will be part of that, I will dedicate myself to working within the community of the Chinatown Artscape project to make sure it is respectful to the community and learns from it, instead of pushing it out.

How do I select prints?

You can view the reward gallery through this link, which will show you thumbnails of the prints I can make available. When you make your contribution for a print, I'll be in touch to confirm your choice and let you know when I expect to have the prints available. Darkroom prints will, of course, require the darkroom to be up and running!

How will the workshops work?

Depending on the workshop you've selected, I'll be in touch to arrange either a one-on-one workshop or one with a small group (<5) of others. If we'll be shooting images, we'll pick a neighbourhood or location to focus on. If we're developing film, we'll do that either at the darkroom or another suitable location. We'll work to meet your schedule.

How do I pay for my contribution?

You can pay online through credit card, through PayPal, or offline through a cheque contribution.  If you choose offline payments, I'll be in touch and let you know how to proceed.

Why aren't you using GoFundMe or Indiegogo or Kickstarter?

By self-hosting this crowdfunding site, I can cut down on the amount of fees charged by a platform like GoFundMe, and make sure that more of your contribution supports the community darkroom.

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