View Full Version : What do you look for in a public darkroom?

Ted Stoddard
3-Dec-2006, 14:34
Hello all, I am in the process of planning to open a darkroom rental place in South Florida, I could use some feedback on what everyone out there would like to see in a place like this? I am trying to get some real responses from people who know what they want in a public darkroom... I am looking at 10 to 20 B/W stations, plus having a place to mount and process all size films... whether it be by tray or by tanks for roll films... I am also planning on having a Gallery within the building for shows and to sell prints... I appreciate any real responses... Thanks in advance...

Peter Galea
3-Dec-2006, 15:12
Air conditioning, fresh chemistry, excellent wash facility, supplies for sale, extended hours (at least some days) and a clean environment.

william linne
3-Dec-2006, 15:24
Good, straight easels. Good ventilation. Not having to share dev/stop/fix with 5 other people. Late night printing. Good lenses. Being able to enlarge negatives up to 8x10.

3-Dec-2006, 15:35

Aside from cleanliness and some of the other requirements already mentioned... I would think that it's prudent to hire staff who have knowledge, experience, and are friendly to work with.

Remember, your staff are the front line to the public and will make the strongest first impression.

Also, you may want to have some basic darkroom seminars to attract new users.

Good luck on the venture.


Frank Petronio
3-Dec-2006, 16:35
I would make the lab easy to convert into a conventional commercial lab during the early morning shift so that you could do custom printing for clients to supplement your income.

It would also mean keeping every station up to "pro" standards for alignment.

The rental darkroom in Rochester used a premium membership program so that members could make reservations and get additional services over the walk-in customers. For profesionals who need to depend on you, this is an important factor - I don't want to get bumped by some yok and am willing to pay extra to reserve a reliable station.

However, this place went out of business along with every other rental darkroom I've ever known. LOTS OF LUCK you will need it in spades.

George Stewart
3-Dec-2006, 17:19
I'd have something to do while waiting for print washing/drying. How about having cappuccino and scones in the salon, with wireless internet access. It should be a place photographers get together and hangout. It should be a fun place.

Finally, I wouldn't just limit yourself to analog. You should have some digital work stations with scanners and printers. They could bring in their files (or via the web) print their stuff, with the materials they want, with the printer they can't afford, and walk out with a print. This is especially true for digital B&W.

3-Dec-2006, 19:52
Ventilation. Oh and having someone to replace the chemicals is good. Nothing sucks more than going halfway across town only to find that you don't have any fix. I speak from personal experience. long open hours are also good, as you never have enough time in the darkroom. Finally, a lack of creepy buggers and roaches.

3-Dec-2006, 20:04
Stuff I don't have.

An 8x10 enlarger would be nice-)

A large colour print processor.

3-Dec-2006, 20:04
Cute darkroom girls.

Doug Dolde
3-Dec-2006, 20:37
Sounds like a great way to lose your shirt.

Frank Petronio
3-Dec-2006, 20:59
The best way to start is with some other people's $1,000,000. Somebody who needs a loss for taxes or money laundering.

Ole Tjugen
4-Dec-2006, 00:07
The only thing I've ever looked for in a public darkroom was the emergency exit.

brad martin
4-Dec-2006, 02:48

These guys are serious........

Wish it wasn't so but it is.............

Live in a small town here in northern california......

Work in the San Francisco bay area.............

The one small camera store here in town where I could buy chemicals, film, and paper went out of business last year. Couldn't compete with Best Buy, and I guess the Good Guys.

I mail order everything. Freestyle mostly.

Most people who are motivated enough will finance there own darkroom. Like me and most of the people here.

When somebody wants to talk about cameras it alway "whats the best digital camera?".

The bright side is all those birthday party and christmas photos will be gone the next
time their hard drive crashes.............


John Ramsay
4-Dec-2006, 05:33
Offer workshops, give up all your free time and for god sake a test before you let them touch anything!! Are you in a university town or near one? I would also set aside lots of time for clean up. I know a few pro`s that think pig pen is a life style.