Tokyo Darkroom Style 4

Darkroomer: Jesse Freeman / tumblr / instagram

While previous entries here have shown makeshift setups in homes and apartments, my good friend Jesse has been able to utilize a proper and fully equipped darkroom on a US Military base in Japan. It was here where he made prints for our joint exhibition in Tokyo in October of 2014. Jesse writes that…

Although I do have an enlarger and all the equipment needed (except for a timer) I prefer to print in a proper darkroom. Also, Tokyo apartments and having a dog further hinders the darkroom at home idea. Living in the suburbs of west Tokyo, I am close to a US air base. I am not military but I have connections to get me in. I originally studied ceramics on base as the classes were cheap and the ceramic teacher is Japanese. He had seen my Leica M3 one day and asked if I still shoot film- then informed me the facility had a darkroom that no one used anymore. I asked to see it and was blown away since much of it was untouched and even still had developer from the 50s (apparently it saw a lot of use during the Korean War). So for a fee of $3 dollars a day (chemicals included) I use the darkroom on base.

I was first introduced to darkroom printing three years ago through my friend Thomas Beswick. Since then I’ve gotten better from experience at the base darkroom. I have a sort of love-hate relationship with darkroom work as I had a stubborn belief that my photos are taken and made through the viewfinder, with development being simply confirmation of what I saw. Recently I have gotten into making photograms and these have got me more excited about what I visual ideas I can explore in the darkroom. 

Of late I have been into Japanese woodblock prints- especially the work of Hiroshige- whose landscapes feature white horizons that slowly become denser and thicker toward the top of the frame. Thanks to my darkroom experiences I realized that through dodging and burning I could achieve similar expressive skies. It is the small discoveries like these that make the darkroom special to me. I find it a sensual and rewarding creative process.


Tokyo Darkroom Style 1  

Tokyo Darkroom Style 2  

Tokyo Darkroom Style 3 

More darkrooms online:

Large Format Photography Australia: Show us your darkroom series

- Pippo, a rental darkroom in Tokyo

- Worldwide Local Darkroom locator powered by Harman


Tamaki at Rawling’s Conservatory 1 and 2
Baltimore, MD 2015
8x10 Chromogenic Color Prints on Fujicolor Crystal Archive Luster Paper

introducing my very first successful c-prints! i’ve been working in my own little color darkroom for the past three weeks and i’ve got to admit i absolutely love the process. i’m going to brag for a quick second and say i’m surprisingly a natural at it?! major sadness regarding the fact that i will only have access to the omnia processor until this may, but i’m going to try and pack as much work as i can into these remaining four months.


Tokyo, home

Print washing in my kitchen.Half size series.







Old school B&W darkroom photography at its finest!

The comparison images reveal the enormous amount of attention that Pablo Inirio, the master darkroom printer who works at Magnum Photos‘ New York headquarters, gives to photos in the darkroom.

The lines and circles reveal the printer’s strategies for dodging and burning the image under the enlarger, with numbers scattered throughout the image to note different exposure times.

Let’s hear it for gorgeous, wonderfully contrast-y OG photos!