Building a Photography Lab

A darkroom, more commonly known as photo lab, is a room or space with almost no light for photographers to develop pictures. The darkroom is necessary because materials used for development are light sensitive.

Initially designed during late 1800’s and early 1900’s, the use of darkrooms to develop pictures today is constantly diminishing with the advancement in technology. Despite this, many hobbyists still prefer the use of a darkroom for their own picture development.

Developing your own pictures after snapping a roll of film is a delicate skill and its use can provide a real sense of satisfaction and accomplishment upon mastering the necessary techniques. With your own photo lab you have the flexibility to experiment with different approaches to the task and see the immediate results in your own location rather than waiting for someone else to do the work. The overall cost of developing each picture also decreases by developing them on your own instead of at a professional photo lab.

Below are few guidelines to help you set up your own photo lab.

  • If you have a spare room or large closet in your home, you can convert it to a photo lab. The darker the room, the more effective your lab will be. In fact, you really need to ensure absolutely no light is able to seep into the room.
  • Make sure the room has a good ventilation system to provide for a comfortable working environment and efficient escape of chemical fumes.
  • Purchase in advance a supply of all required picture development materials, including trays of various sizes, an easel, enlarger, concentrated developer solution, tongs, and other pertinent picture development equipment. eBay or different online auctions are great places for beginners to purchase these materials inexpensively.
  • Your photo lab should be partitioned: a ‘dry’ part and a ‘wet’ part. Be very careful to keep your work for each part of the room separate; otherwise, even simple mistakes could result in a ruined picture or canister of film.
  • Use the right sized tray, and you should have at least three of them. One will be used to hold the fix solution, another will keep the ‘stop’ solution, and the third will have the developer solution.