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SOHO Girls Reflect on the Darkroom Experience

For their narrative photos, the SOHO group used props, costumes, and models (themselves, their friends, and mentors).
For their narrative photos, the SOHO group used props, costumes, and models (themselves, their friends, and mentors).

As part of their recent photography lesson and in preparation for their upcoming exhibit, the SOHO girls wrote artist statements and what they learned from the project. The exhibit will feature narrative photographs, conceived, shot, and developed by each of the girls, and their accompanying artist statements. In addition to those statements, they also wrote reflections on their first darkroom experience:


“There were two rooms. One was called the wet room and the other was called the dry room. The rooms were dark with two orange, dim lights. I learned how to develop my photos and how to use a cool tool called an enlarger.”


“The most interesting thing that I learned about photography was that changing the angles of my camera changed the length and size of the people in the pictures.”


“I loved learning about the importance of lighting to show different emotions in photos. The darkroom was small and dark. Most of the equipment was black, white, and gray. There were six enlargers. Everything was, and had to be, in order. It smelled like salt and vinegar chips! Our pictures all turned out black and white.”


“The darkroom was like a person wearing a black scarf. It’s chemistry. There is barely any light—like a bat cave with a hole on top. We zoomed in and zoomed out. We learned how to test the photo development times to see how we wanted our pictures to come out. It was so fun because the photos were black and white, like how they would have been when photography began.”


“Learning about different viewpoints in photography was interesting. There is “bird’s eye” view, taken from above, “worm’s eye” view, taken from the ground, and “front” view, shot by looking straight ahead. The darkroom was red, mysterious, and scary! All of the tools were fascinating. When we put the photo paper in the chemicals, the image magically appeared!”

SOHO photography


“The most interesting thing I learned about photography were camera angles.  Like “worm’s eye” view is when you take photograph from the floor. The dark room was dark. To make sure you have the right picture, you have to hold it up to the light. Once we finished copying the photos to the film, we dropped the film into four stations, so they would appear in their own color. The four stations smelled like vinegar.”


“The most interesting thing I learned was how to take photos from different points of view.”


“The most interesting thing I learned was that you could take the same picture, but just by moving the lighting, you can make it a completely different picture. The darkroom was, of course, dark. I liked putting the pictures in the chemicals and watching them develop. When we first went into the darkroom, we had to shut both doors so no light could get in. Then we turned off the lights. After that, we watched a demonstration of how to put our pictures on our paper. We did ours. When the photo was on our paper, we dipped it into chemicals to develop it. We then had to set a timer to expose the picture correctly.”

SOHO photography


“The most interesting thing I learned about photography is that there are a lot of different ways to use lighting to change a picture.”


“I learned the steps of how to make photos—how to take pictures and develop them, and how to focus pictures using light. The darkroom was dark and in it were machines to make our photos. There were pans of chemicals to develop our pictures and it smelled like salt and vinegar. We used special paper to put our photos on and they had to dry in a dryer.”


“What I learned in photography class is how to focus the lens when taking a picture. The darkroom was dark and it had two rooms.  It was smelly and small.”

The third SOHO photography exhibit will be on view January 25 to February 2. Look for a preview in an upcoming blog post!

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