Nearly a year after the city's last public-use darkroom closed, a Vancouver couple new to the city want to open what they believe would be B.C.'s first ecologically sensitive public darkroom.
Virginie Lamarche and Bastien Desfriches Doria, owners of VNB Photo and VNB Fine Art Photography Workshops, recently launched a 40-day "VNB Independent Eco Darkroom" campaign on the online fundraising site Indiegogo.com to raise $15,000 for a darkroom that would use less water, fewer toxic chemicals, reuse abandoned darkroom equipment and recover silver used in photo processing. The plan has the city's Greenest City 2020 Action Plan in mind. Cash earned from recovering silver will be given to the Vancouverbased Raincoast Conservation Foundation and the couple expects to donate $500 to $2,000 a year.
"We were planning on actually getting in touch with the manager [of the Vancouver Darkroom Co-op] and possibly renting it out," said Desfriches Doria. "They closed the doors a month before we arrived. That was a really bad omen for us."
But he believes their darkroom will survive because it will be used by their photography students as well as photographers in the community and be backed by events and programming. "Our real, final goal next year will be to organize Vancouver's first international film photography festival," Desfriches Doria said.
Originally from France, the couple moved to Vancouver in October 2011. He was teaching photography at a Chicago university in 2009 and Lamarche in Dayton, Ohio when they started plotting their move across the border. They wanted to live in the part of Canada where the winters are mild, and the wilderness and outdoor recreation opportunities are close to the city limits.
They started their first photography workshops in November, focusing on film.
"It delves students into a more rigorous approach to the fundamentals of photography, camera operation, exposure, the entire camera system," Desfriches Doria said. "We want our students to pre-think what they are trying to do in photographs as part of the process, as opposed to shoot it digitally and then try to figure it out on the computer."
VNB offers three-hour to six-week long courses that provide exposure to shooting with plastic cameras, landscapes in large format and environmental portraiture using mixed lighting.
They've got their eye on a 1,000-squarefoot space on Commercial Drive with a backstreet entrance near Britannia secondary, with plans for eight printing stations and three subscription levels for their darkroom that'll be dubbed Halides and Gelatins. "It's got a poetic ring to it," Desfriches Doria said. "It's not ambiguous. It is a darkroom. It is about halides, which are the silver components of film and gelatin, which is the silver component of print."
Desfriches Doria isn't concerned they've only raised $600 with 32 days left. He said similar campaigns typically draw more donations in their second half of fundraising and most of the 11 contributors so far are interested Vancouver photographers.
"A lot of people are pitching in in terms of equipment," he added.
Others are offering carpentry and plumbing services in return for darkroom rental time. "The 15 grand, it's an effective financial goal, but we could work with less."