Taking pictures has become an everyday part of life, especially since cameras became standard features in phones. These images are easily saved, viewed and shared, but it’s not so easy to make them look professional.
A decade after Niepce’s invention, the daguerreotype process made photography much more accessible to the average person. This was due to the combination of simplicity and affordability.
Invented in the early 19th century, the darkroom is a workshop where light sensitive materials are processed and printed. These include photographic film and paper as well as other equipment such as an enlarger, baths, chemicals and running water. Despite the popularity of digital photography, darkrooms remain commonplace today and are found in many photo schools, college campuses and professional photographers’ studios.
For the most part, a darkroom needs to be completely dark to work with the chemicals involved in developing and printing photographs. It also needs to have a safelight, which is used to illuminate the darkroom in order to operate certain equipment such as an enlarger or a printer.
While the darkroom is still popular, its use has been decreasing due to the emergence of new technologies, first instant camera technology and then digital cameras. Digital photography requires less processing, fewer chemicals and allows for much faster printing. The digital camera has also become more accessible for consumers and the cost of a digital camera has been significantly lower than that of an analog camera.
Although the digital cameras are gaining in popularity, some consumers still want to take advantage of the traditional advantages of analog film. This has led to a rise in demand for film cameras, with sales of film cameras increasing by double digits each year. Many of those purchasing film cameras are younger people who have never had the experience of using a digital camera and are drawn to the more natural look of analog films as well as the nostalgia that comes with the process of developing the photos.
In a world where images are increasingly becoming less and less tangible, the photograph has emerged as an essential tool for human expression. Moreover, it has come to define our worldviews and understanding of what we see and what is important to us. As such, it has become one of the most powerful forms of cultural production and a means for reclaiming and shaping our experiences. Rather than simply providing technical support for amateur photographers, the system of darkrooms developed to meet their needs was integral to their constitution. Thus, the darkroom acted as what Jordan Frith calls a “constellation” of elements that shaped the practices of touring amateur photographers.
Whether you’re looking for your favorite Duane Reade soda or a prescription refill, the drugstore is a familiar and often comforting staple. But while these stores are still a major part of many communities, the industry is evolving with technological advancements.
Once upon a time, CVS and Walgreens were the prime spots to get your film developed and turned into prints. However, those days appear to be long gone, as The Darkroom notes that many chain drugstores now only develop digital photos, outsource their film development to third parties, and no longer return the negatives to customers. This is a huge blow for die-hard film fans, and it’s something that even some local shops have had to implement in order to remain competitive.
In the mid-1880s, George Eastman introduced flexible film on a roll, making photography more affordable for amateurs and making it much easier to transport than heavy glass plates. This allowed photographers to take multiple pictures quickly and easily, bringing the medium into a new age. This also meant that the images produced were more durable, allowing them to be carried in coat pockets or ladies’ handbags.
The arrival of the Kodachrome film in 1936 was another big milestone for film photography, as it was the first color film that could be used in 35mm cameras. It worked by combining three layers of emulsion to capture red, green, and blue light, producing complementary cyan, magenta, and yellow dye images in the final print. The advent of instant color film by Polaroid in 1963 was a game-changer as well, since it made color photography accessible to the masses.
Today, digital technology continues to change the way we view and share images. In addition to the convenience of digital cameras built into our phones, advances in memory and processor chips have allowed people to store more images than ever before, while faster WiFi and 3G/4G networks have made it possible to instantly upload and share photographs online.
With these changes, it’s no surprise that many traditional drugstores have had to adapt in order to stay relevant. Some have focused on their grocery and pharmacy offerings, while others have shifted into more specialty markets. One of the most successful examples is a Brooklyn-based shop called Reformed Film Lab, which offers mail-in film developing along with a selection of cameras and “Film Life” merchandise to prove that even in this era of high-tech gadgets, film can still be an attractive and popular option for photographers.
In the first decade of photography’s existence, it was a highly technical endeavor that required specialized equipment and a knowledge of a baffling array of chemicals. Photographers became part scientists as they mastered their tools and the science of the photographic process, yet they also explored the same subject matter that had fascinated artists for centuries: portraits, landscapes, genre scenes and still lifes.
Photographic images became more accessible as technology improved and prices declined. Photographers could now purchase a box camera and have their images sent to a lab for development and printing. As a result, more people took photographs and printed them for family, friends and themselves. While professional photographers continued to explore the artistic possibilities of the medium, domestic and snapshot photography took off like a wildfire.
By the 1880s, George Eastman developed roll film to replace photographic plates and free photographers from carrying boxes of plates and dangerous chemical around with them. This invention revolutionized the industry by making it possible for everyone to take photos.
With the advent of film, photography began to gain more and more popularity with the general public as it became cheaper, more convenient, and faster than painting. Prints were now much smaller and less fragile than previous forms of photographic imaging allowing them to easily fit in coat pockets and ladies’ handbags for sharing. Additionally, the speed at which a photograph could be made allowed people to capture the moment before it passed by.
While digital technology improved rapidly, it was not until the early 2000s that most major camera manufacturers offered cameras with a resolution capable of rivaling 35mm. By 2005, camera quality had improved to the point where many users believed that a 5-megapixel camera was equal in image resolution to a 35mm photo.
While the digital era has left a number of traditional photography shops reeling, others have adjusted by converting to digital processing. Some offer digital prints while others specialize in scanning old 35mm negatives into digital files. The most successful photography businesses will continue to adapt as technological advancements occur, offering the same service they always have but in a different way.
It’s been a long road for photography to come to where it is now. The technological advancements have been staggering, and while Eastman Kodak failed to adapt to the digital era, other camera manufacturers were more prepared. Those companies are now well established and offer a range of digital gear from consumer point-and-shoots to high-end professional cameras. But what about the old home developing days? Is it something you’d like to try again or perhaps have done so long ago that the scent of developer singes your nostrils? If so, let’s look at how to get started. The basics are simple, but proper technique is important.