Do you have your own darkroom?

Kuristopha

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Hey just wonderin how everyone processes their film, do u do it at school, or at work or have your owne darkroom?

If you have your own darkroom i was wonderin how much your costs come to? chemicals, equipment etc? thanks!
 

ksmattfish

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I have my own darkroom. I process and print all of my BW film at home. The rare color that I shoot I take to a local pro lab. Not considering time, my material costs are far less than half what it would cost me at a lab. And there is no doubt that my hand done silver gelatin prints are much nicer than the lab prints.
 

photoman

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I have a darkroom and process b&w. The cost isnt too great in home processing and you get the freedom to push pull negs and create your own costom prints. Labs cost a little more but you dont have to spend time to make the prints or develope negatives. Its sort of a trade off between if you have time to do it or pay someone else to do it for you.

I prefer to do my own work and printing though. I think the results are better when i do my own processing.
 

metroshane

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I'll probably take some slack for this, but economically speaking, darkrooms aren't profitable for the professional working photographer. This quote was from one of the top photogs in the commercial industry.

Yes, they have thier place, especially in art...but if you figure your cost per hour, the dark room just doesn't add up.
 

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metroshane said:
I'll probably take some slack for this, but economically speaking, darkrooms aren't profitable for the professional working photographer. This quote was from one of the top photogs in the commercial industry.

Yes, they have thier place, especially in art...but if you figure your cost per hour, the dark room just doesn't add up.

no slack (i think perhaps you meant 'flack'). ignorance must be bliss.


Kuristopha;

hit me up with an email and i'll get a list to you.
 

metroshane

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no slack (i think perhaps you meant 'flack'). ignorance must be bliss.

Yes I meant "flack". a simple typo. You seem to have some kind of problem with me (or anyone with a differing opinion), so either provide something constructive or let me know what the issue is. The darkroom is a great place for artists, but is a loser for the busy commercial photog.
 

ksmattfish

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metroshane said:
I'll probably take some slack for this, but economically speaking, darkrooms aren't profitable for the professional working photographer. This quote was from one of the top photogs in the commercial industry.

Yes, they have thier place, especially in art...but if you figure your cost per hour, the dark room just doesn't add up.

If you are talking color film I would agree, but there is no doubt left on my business sheets that doing my own BW raises my profit percentages.

I can develop and 8 rolls of BW 120 at home in an hour for under $20 (this includes all chem, elec, and water, and still leaves a little extra for waste).

Time to get across town, place the order at the lab, go home, come back and go home again is at least 1.5 hours. The lab charges me $5 a roll for dev only BW 120, so 8 rolls is $40.

The way I see it I earn $20 extra in profits and have an extra 1/2 hour on the developing of 8 rolls of film.

Contact prints cost $7.50 each at the lab in my town. I can do them at home for less than $1 each. It takes me about 40 min to do 8 contact sheets. So now the lab is costing me 1.5 hours and $100. Using my own darkroom I have spent 1.6 hours and $28.

If the customer wants snapshot size proof prints, I do have the lab print them. They do them for 80 cents, and I would need to charge a lot more to make it worth my while. Part of my marketing strategy is to emphasize my hand prints. Even though I charge much more than the labs do for an 8x10, my customers always order hand prints. Even to the untrained eye the difference between a lab machine produced RA print and my hand done silver gelatin print is huge. I have brides who thought they wanted the whole wedding shot in color switch to all BW when they see my handprints.

Although I do actually enjoy photographing strangers' weddings and portraits, I have little interest in doing it as charity. I do it to make money to support my own photography, and I've never had any doubt that doing my own work increases my profits.

I worked at a "pro" lab for 3.5 years. Take a look into the back of your local pro lab. Who is working there? Around here it's mostly college kids who are "into" photography. Maybe they are the next Ansel Adams, but most of the time I am positive that I know more, and will take better care of my film. I have had one major developing mistake with a customer's film in my home darkroom, and even then I was able to save the film. I have lost almost a dozen rolls of film over the last 5 years to careless handling at the lab. And I couldn't even count the rolls that have been returned to me with scratches. It just doesn't happen in my own darkroom.

Each photographer perceives the work/art in a different way. For many people tripping the shutter is 100% of the creative process. Then they ignore the rest of the work that happens with their film and prints and they call it theirs. I feel that the creative process is only 50% done when the shutter clicks. I like to see my work through to the end. The satisfaction alone is worth a few bucks less profit. Hell, I'm not doing this to make money, I'm doing it because I love it. I take paying gigs so that I can offset some of my own costs.

I'll probably get some flak for this, but when "top" pros say that doing their own BW darkroom work is too inconvenient, to me I hear "I am lazy, and convenience is more important than quality."
 

metroshane

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good points KS. Maybe it's my terminology but I don't consider wedding's and such as commercial photography. This isn't a slight, just an interpretation. I can definitely see where you can make up your money in the darkroom. One thing you don't add in though is your cost per hour....how much you get paid an hour.

The photog that gave me the quote was a strict commercial photog (you know, creating the art directors vision, etc) that charged about $300/hr taking pics of cars for a national magazine. At that rate, he could spend an hour in the darkroom or pay a lab 40-50 bucks to do it and make $300 in the same hour on another shoot. FYI, he was strictly color. I agree b/w is sometimes a different story especially if it takes you just as long to get to the lab as it would to develop.

NIce post. It just goes to show how many ways we create our income.
 

havoc

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Don't worry Shane, Will has a problem with alot of people, I won't go into our disagreements in an open forum, bt you are not the only one he is rude to.
 

metroshane

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Thanks Havoc. It's a shame that he seems to have a lot of talent and knowledge and no camera-side manner.
 

ksmattfish

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I just went in to my darkroom and did rough math comparing capacity to price on the chemistry for BW. It costs me approximately 40 cents of chem to develop one roll (35mm, 120, or 4 sheets of 4x5). So eight rolls costs me $3.20 plus water plus electricity plus 1 hour. I'm using Sprint liquid film dev, Kodak stop, Kodak fix, and Kodak hypo-clear. For BW dev only the lab charges me $4 a roll for 35mm, $5 a roll for 120, and $10 for 4 sheets of 4x5.
 

ksmattfish

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I try to figure $80 an hour plus materials for any type of photography work that I do, shooting, darkroom, whatever. This is pretty cheap, but I'm definately a beginner when it comes to the photo biz. And it's still a lot more than I make at my day job.

There are two local pros that I know who do all of their own BW darkroom work. They do mostly weddings and portraits, but also product photography; here in Kansas there aren't enough customers to specialize too much. They are getting paid over $900 an hour, and are able to pick and choose the work they do. One of them does 20 weddings a year and a few portrait sittings a month (40 to 50 hours of work a month, including darkroom time), and makes 150K annually (this isn't commercial photography? whatever it is, gimmie some!).

These are the people that inspire me as far as my own photography business. The big money and short hours is a no brainer, but what I really yearn for is to be in such demand that I can choose what work I want to do.
 
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Kuristopha

Kuristopha

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Thanks for all the info guys. Gotta start thinkin bout how keep up this hobby witht he costs so high. I miss highschool when i paid my 50 bucks and got everything, chemicals, film, photo paper, and top of the line equipment for the whole year. Totally took it for granted back then. I'll be moving onto campus at school in January, so i'm trying to figure out a way to cut costs as much as possible. It's a small school and i don't thinkt hey have a photo lab...
 

metroshane

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this isn't commercial photography? whatever it is, gimmie some!).

:lol: It's Professional for sure, but not what I usually associate as commercial. Infact, a lot of photogs don't like commercial work as it is really you trying to deliver someone else's vision onto film. At least that's what I've always used the term as. Let's hope we can all get to the same point as your friends. :wink:
 

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