In the basement of a modern apartment building set among Bushwick’s industrial buildings and new restaurants, there’s a row of nondescript storage units. Lucia Rollow, a recent college graduate, recently purchased one, but she’s not storing winter clothes or old yearbooks in there. Inside her unit she’s set up the Bushwick Community Darkroom .
There’s little room for community here, Rollow admits. She did get the capital and supplies to start the darkroom through the community, though. She used Kickstarter, an online funding platform, and a friend gave her the enlarger. She was recently approved for fiscal sponsorship, and her goal is to get a much larger space with room for a gallery and an area for people to hang out while they wait for their prints to dry.
There are other darkrooms in New York City, but these are mostly for professionals, and the price, not to mention the people, can be intimidating. Rollow was looking for an affordable place to print with the sense of fellowship she had felt in school. Unable to find such a place, she set about creating one on her own.
If you like the look of black and white photography you can do that digitally. It’s even easy to make vintage looking photos using the popular Instagram or Hypstamatic iPhone apps. Hypstamatic even has a “lens” named Williamsburg. So why go into the darkroom when there’s an app for that?
“The darkroom was the reason I fell in love with photography, just the idea that you could capture this image and replicate it and watch it appear seemingly out of nowhere is incredible,” she says. “The steps are so simple and you can just create amazing beauty that it just blows my mind every time I get in there.”
Rollow has found neighbors who are as passionate as she is about photography. With little publicity, the darkroom attracts three to seven customers a week who pay $10-$15 an hour for printing.
“There’s a guy who comes to print sometimes,” she says, “and the first time he came he printed some images that he had also had done digitally just for the comparison and it was incredible to look at them next to each other because the silver prints had so much more depth and sharpness it was just incredible.”
Contact Gloria Dawson via Twitter @GloriaDawson
The Bushwick Community Darkroom is hosting a fundraiser on Saturday:
Saturday, October 22, 2011
20 Meadow Street, first floor
Brooklyn, NY 11206