If you’re a film photographer based in New Jersey, we have some great news for you. A project called Obscura Darkroom, currently being crowdfunded on Kickstarter, is gearing up to be the only public film darkroom in the state. Setting up in Newark, it will be offering classes for teens and adults, will have open darkroom hours, offer memberships, and serve as a gallery focused solely on film photography.
The Obscura Darkroom project is spearheaded by Jen Zehner, who rediscovered her love for film photography after leaving the medium for two decades. After moving to New Jersey in 2014 and joining the Film Shooters Collective, she was disappointed to find out that there were no public darkrooms around. “I had to go to Brooklyn to use facilities, as my own darkroom space in my NJ apartment was too small, and had no access to running water.”
Earlier this year, Zehner began brainstorming about possible career changes and had the idea to teach people how to work in a darkroom. Thus, the Obscura Darkroom was born, garnering positive feedback on the project from a number of film photography groups. When the project was mentioned on a Film Photography Project podcast episode in July 2018, interest in the Obscura Darkroom grew, and Zehner began to focus her efforts into making it a reality.
In the Kickstarter campaign, Zehner mentioned her plans to fund most of the construction herself, but funding is still needed for purchasing equipment and supplies. Apart from the two enlargers she already has, she has also received pledges for three more. “My goal is to have 8 b/w enlargers (at least 2 for 4×5) and 2 color enlargers. I’m also looking for a color print processor, so Obscura can offer RA 4 printing. The other major costs to be covered are darkroom sinks and silver recovery systems, as well as all the bits and pieces that make up a darkroom.”
The Obscura Darkroom is almost halfway funded with 18 days to go, so go ahead and pledge your support while there’s still time. Head to the Kickstarter campaign now to back the project and check out the cool rewards, which include a t-shirt, a tote bag, gelatin silver prints (above are some of the images for this), and a 2-hour black and white darkroom lesson.
All images from the Kickstarter campaign by Jen Zehner