The Dark Room

Today, we know photography as something that is accessible to anyone with a phone, digital camera, whatever is convenient. But what about photography that maybe isn’t as simple as touching a button?

I’ve talked about this before in my Diane Arbus post, but it wasn’t until recently that we could take a photo in less than five seconds. It used to take up to seven minutes to capture a single photograph.

Whats the worth in photography?

I think digital photography makes a lot of us take photography for granted. Is there actually worth and effort in a picture you took on your phone? Does Snapchat count as art? Is there any value to photography anymore?

My answer is yes. I think there is beauty in being able to document moments, capturing the now. I think there is thought and skill put into instant photos. That being said there are also a lot of pictures that are not art. Again, it all depends on your definition of art.

Although I appreciate modern photography,  I have found true love in the art of the dark room.

Manual Photography

The dark room is a place to develop photos taken manually. That’s right. The ol’ roll of Kodak film that you load into the camera, conscious to not expose the actual film to any light, and developing the photos yourself.

The purpose of this blog post is not to teach you how to unnamed-2develop your own photos in the dark room. 1) Lets be realistic, would you actually do it? Probably not. & 2) There are already a million postings on the internet that provide you with a step-by-step process. I think me telling you would be throwing words into an abyss.

Instead I want to talk about why I think it is such a valuable process. Consider this as more of an argument for using the dark room, not a how-to.
Whats so great about the dark room?
First, you’ll appreciate your photos more. The process to manually develop a photograph can take hours. You have to develop the roll, adjust the film, project the photo, develop the photo, time everything perfectly, it’s a lot of work. The payoff is much greater when you have to actually take the time and do it yourself.
Second, you’ll gain technical skills. Not only is developing photos timely, but it requires you to perfect the process. Since you’re working with chemicals everything is very sensitive. Things to pay attention to are temperature of the chemicals, the amouunnamed-1nt of light exposure in the room, aperture, etc.
I think the hardest part of the process is getting the roll of film into the developing canister. It is pitch black in the room, you have to pop the roll of film open with a can opener- in complete darkness, get the film out of the canister without touching it, and roll it onto a spool. The reasoning for the darkness is because you can’t expose the film to light until it is fully developed or else everything will fog over.
Third, you’ll be more relaxed. After the darkness you can use a safe-light to illuminate the room. It emits a soft red glow. I also like to play my music while I’m in the dark room. Wilco is usually the band of choice for this activity. Its not rare to be alone in the dark room so just picture this: you’re working through a set process (its almost mindless once you get the hang of it), there’s a soft red glow illuminating the room, and Jesus Etc. by Wilco is quietly playing.
This is an artistic process that is fading out. I think it holds a lot of value and sentiment and should be more appreciated than it is.
Even if you’re not into photography or you don’t want to go into a dark room, I hope I’ve at least shed some light on why it is something to be appreciated.
All photos are mine.

Diane Arbus

To continue expanding on our types of art, its finally time to touch on photography.

was developed in 1837 in Europe. It spread rapidly, making it to the U.S. by 1838.

It took on average 7 minutes to take a single photo. Nowadays we are at half of a second to take a good photo. Its wild to think about how much technology has developed.

12-lede-diane-arbus-w750-h560-2xDiane Arbus

diane-arbus-1949Diane Arbus is one of the most recognized photographers in the 20th century. She produced the bulk of her work in the first half of the 1900s.

She was married to the actor, Allan Arbus, for about 25 years of her life. They lived in New York and thrived on the artistic opportunity the city had to offer.

What did she photograph?

While in the city, she picked up the art of photography. She is known for her subject matter. She photographed pe64898a35ccd917f2a7df6be4bd681929ople who were considered to be lesser in society. This included dwarfs, giants, transvestites, etc.

Her work is defined as idiosyncratic, meaning that it is very individualized. She didn’t focus on groups or events but rather the different types of people that resided in NYC. She looked at people for their individual attributes. Her photographs dug into the depths of society.


Diane’s photographs are admirable in that they expose the parts of NYC that aren’t so picturesque. She puts the undesirables, if you will, in the spotlight. Exposing the weird makes them less marginalized given that she shows them in everyday life.

I think a lot of times people are afraid of what they don’t understand. Exposing the different types of lives that are existing in NYC, it makes the public more aware and potentially more comfortable when in the presence of someone who doesn’t fit the cookie cutter standard that society holds for its people.

Is it really that weird to be a dwarf? Be a man and wear makeup? Be seven feet tall? How common is it for people to break away from the norm?

Diane’s work was recently exhibited at The Met in New York City.


Diane Arbus holding her camera

Portrait of Diane Arbus

A Young Man in Curlers at Home on West 20th Street, N.Y.C. 1966

Hi, I’m Lauren. What’s your name?

I am a third year college student looking for a place to compile art that I find interesting (arteresting). This blog will not only feature studio art, but also film, photography, music, etc. Art comes in many forms and I want to include as much of it as I can. Consider this to be a hub for all artistic forms.

I am minoring in studio art and art history, which puts me in a position to critically evaluate and discuss different types of art (at a third year college level). I will include both art that I find to be interesting and beautiful and I will also occasionally post some of my own work.

I hope this can be a place for others to interact about personal artistic interests. Another reason I want to publicly post my own interests is to learn about the interests of others. There is more to art than just my own interests.