One Week Left to Kickstart Nashville Community Darkroom



In an age when it takes seconds to snap a photo and share it with a thousand friends, toiling for hours in the malodorous obscurity of a darkroom might seem like a laborious way to show the world what you had for dinner. But that's part of the appeal. Now that the effort-free snapshot has become ubiquitous, perhaps analog photography is due to join such nostalgic hands-on pursuits as vinyl records, backyard chickens and artisanal charcuterie in experiencing a renaissance. That's the idea behind Nashville Community Darkroom, an East Nashville enterprise we told you about last month, whose Kickstarter campaign ends in one week.

The project had its beginnings a year ago, when local couple Catie Sampson and John Haubenreich connected with other film photography enthusiasts on a community mailing list. The ever-expanding group started meeting at Ugly Mugs to make plans. They hope to open a darkroom that will welcome film buffs along with curious newcomers who don't know what to do with the 35mm canisters languishing in their closets.

NCD's members already possess boundless enthusiasm and copious quantities of darkroom equipment (including 25 vintage enlargers that are stockpiled in Sampson and Haubenreich's attic). Their Kickstarter project will raise funds needed for plumbing, electrical work and ventilation. Once it's up and running, the space, just off Main Street, will have a classroom and gallery, as well as a wet lab for printmaking. And the darkroom's founders hope to spread their passion to a new generation of artists. As Sampson points out, many local schools have curbed their arts curriculum.” As a response, NCD anticipates filling in the gaps by offering classes for course credit.

This will be the first time Nashville's had a public darkroom facility since ... no one's quite sure when, exactly. But it's about time. In Sampson's words, “With film, you really have to slow down and think about what you're doing and hone in on your craft. Just taking that time, I think, is what makes the difference. It makes film images just more special and much more thoughtful.”

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