If you ask most photographers in Istanbul about where you can find a good darkroom, they’ll tell you to talk to Taylan Bağcı. He’s got a darkroom on the second floor of a nondescript building on a side street in the Tophane (Tohp-ha-neh) neighborhood. It takes a bit of navigational know-how and perhaps a Turkish friend or two to help you find it, but once you do, you’ll find yourself in a space dedicated to film photography.
The darkroom is a small space at the back of the second floor, away from the large windows of the front room, where Taylan keeps some of his cameras and photo books. You’ll find three enlargers in the darkroom – one for 35mm, one for medium format and one for large format. Taylan’s versed in all three as he’s an avowed film photographer.
The only digital camera he owns is the one in his pocket. He does most of his work with a Leica, though he has a variety of cameras, including a large format camera he restored, and while he has little to no interest in digital, he doesn’t look down on it. What he does have interest in, however, is helping people learn the darkroom.
He’ll either develop your film or teach you how to develop it yourself. The darkroom can handle three people at most, which explains why he’ll take on one to two students at a time. Taylan holds workshops for folks at various skill levels, from beginner on up through advanced, though he can tailor it to what you want to learn.
He got some of the equipment secondhand, and in other cases, as you can see here, he repurposes water bottles for his chemicals.
It’s a swell space, and Taylan’s a good guy to learn from. Patient and soft-spoken, he’s got an eye for what works, both in terms of making the photograph and bringing it to life in the darkroom.
For more info on Taylan and his darkroom, head on over to his website.