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Thread: If I build it, will they come?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Northern Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada

    If I build it, will they come?

    I am at a bit of a crossroad and would appreciate some sane advice. I live in a beautiful part of the world that is actually at the edge of civilization. (Canada's west coast)
    I have all the equipment on hand to build a very nice darkroom. A D-5 XL with all lenses and carriers required, from 4x5 to smaller than 35mm. (El-Nikkor, Schneiders and Rodenstock). My plan was to have a Bed and Darkroom concept at my home for summer travellers. My largest trays are 20x24 but 16x20 would be most practical. An Ilford Cap 40s for RA-4 or ( Dektol??) Film developing would be in SS tanks for rolls or my sink-line, which is jacketed and has temperature control. I have hangers for 8x10, 2 up 5x7, and 4 up 4x5. With a basket that holds about 4 hangers. I have enough 1 gal tanks to accommodate E-6 with extra wash tanks. I have 20 yrs experience working in NYC in labs and studios. Option B- Leave the past in the past and sell everything. Opinions welcome,...bk

  2. #2

    Re: If I build it, will they come?

    Yes you should follow your heart
    I would come visit and why not never been there! !

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Bear, DE

    Re: If I build it, will they come?

    I agree. Follow your heart. Otherwise there will be regrets later.
    I would visit as well.

  4. #4
    jp's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009

    Re: If I build it, will they come?

    If you don't find enough of your exact client you can also do some workshops if you're a people person or partner with such a teacher. Or lock the darkroom when providing normal airbnb occupancy.

  5. #5
    Drew Bedo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Houston Texas

    Re: If I build it, will they come?

    Is Photographers formulry still offering workshops? I attended a Daguerreotype workshop there in Montana back in 2006. There was a small dorm, maybe 6 rooms, meeting areas and a group darkroom with hugh lab sinks for conventional or alternate processing . An adjacent B&B offered three meals a day in a family-style dining room setting. Tthey also accommodated other craft workshops such as weaviln and quilting.Tried to find their website but maybe things have changed in ten years!

    Not that you should adopt exactly that operating model, but do consider a broader scope of activity to extrend the viability of your primary vision.

    Whatever you do, start small and grow it.
    Drew Bedo

    There are only three types of mounting flanges; too big, too small and wrong thread!

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Tonopah, Nevada, USA

    Re: If I build it, will they come?

    One thing I would point out. You may not get an accurate response. We've all been battered senseless by political correctness and positive thinking. It's BAD to say anything negative, so most nice folks simply choose the other option, silence.

    For me, I would probably never elect to rent the space you describe. I'm a big old cheapskate. And I carry enough holders etc. to concentrate on the photography and leave the darkroom stuff for home.

    Mama taught us; "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Hamilton, Canada

    Re: If I build it, will they come?

    I was wondering if people would want to spend their holiday days in the dark, rather than out and about where they have never been before.
    But a educational holiday would be another thing; shooting and darkroom with a specific process in mind.
    Add a UV light source and do alternative processes. That would be off interest.

  8. #8
    Daniel Stone's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Los Angeles area

    Re: If I build it, will they come?

    Build a web presence. Market yourself. In today's world you're pretty much good as dead if you don't have a web presence of some sort. Even a "free" page on Facebook is better than nothing.
    Show the best reasons to come and stay at your place. Pictures sell services, words are boring in today's world. People eat with their eyes first, remember.
    CLEARLY state what your "included" items are. I wouldn't offer crazy options of all these exotic types of chemistry, but state "if you have special requests for certain products to be available, please contact us prior to booking".
    Forget the color option as a "regularly ready" item. Be willing to offer it for an extra fee. Color chemistry is expensive, even more so if it's not getting used.
    Be ready to have to take a couple of years to build a reputation and work out the kinks(as there WILL be kinks). Some clients are real assholes, and expect champagne when they're only willing to pay for Natural Ice
    Don't go into debt to do this. As others have said, start small.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Oct 2013

    Re: If I build it, will they come?

    Perhaps a self-guided/lightly-guided shooting/processing concept might work. As others have pointed out, you will need to do some solid marketing, to include some good examples of what kind of landscapes or structures might be available to the shooters. Your current darkroom setup sounds pretty minimal in terms of capacity - but I wouldn't say to expand in the color area as that would be very pricey to maintain. A darkroom with a single enlarger implies that you expect a single boarder. For not that much more you could possibly provide some alternative printing capability as well - a UV light box, inkjet printer for digital negs, flatbed scanner and pick one or two alt processes to support.

  10. #10
    Drew Wiley
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    SF Bay area, CA

    Re: If I build it, will they come?

    How do YOU feel about darkroom work? That's the only guarantee you've got, something you can fall back on. If you're not enthusiastic about it, how will it be a
    magnet to others? But logistically, it sounds rather skimpy or under-equipped for a teaching or workshop environment.

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