Ilford Photo have launched a campaign to enhance the position, standing and future of the UK’s darkrooms and associated creative techniques. Inspired by those involved in the analogue photographic industry, from manufacturers to the media, the campaign is designed to be a vehicle to establish a new future for darkroom photography.
By inspiring a new generation of darkroom users, raising the profile of darkroom on the photo-education agenda and redefining the relationship between analogue and digital photography, Defend the Darkroom will establish a new direction for photography. The campaign will inspire a new mindset that will unlock the latent potential of photography’s heritage to inspire a bold future of innovation, creativity and diversity.
Howard Hopwood, marketing director at Ilford Photo commented: “Interest in darkroom photography isn’t waning, but it is certainly being neglected by various parties. Our campaign is a watershed moment for the industry, designed to inspire a future of photography that reflects the coexistence of digital and darkroom technology.”
The campaign will take many forms and is essentially an ever-evolving project to bring the world of darkroom photography to the attention of the digital generation and inspire new ideas, new enthusiasm and new skills amongst a new breed of photographers.
Howard Hopwood, added: “For too long now, Darkroom has been slipping down the agenda of educational institutions, regardless of continued support from photo-educators and those responsible for establishing the photo-education curriculum. Our campaign will highlight these problems and make the case for darkroom education."
"During the fast-paced digital revolution, digital technology has been seen, by some as a replacement for analogue technology – but through this campaign Ilford Photo is keen to show how the two can coexist as complimentary creative art forms."
“Darkroom photography is not standing still. It is not a relic of a bygone era, it is very much a part of the evolving world of photography. Our campaign will educate new and existing darkroom photographers about the technological developments from manufacturers that are shaping the future of darkroom."
“The signature of darkroom is the physical control over the image; the art of the developing process. Skill and creativity in the darkroom is as much a part of photography as the taking of the picture.” Added Howard.
Initial initiatives for the campaign include:
- Development of a Photo Instructor Newsletter for UK educational establishments
- A series of Darkroom Master Class events to promote and inspire the creative process.
- Continuing sponsorship of Red Eye, an Art Council funded project to provide a travelling darkroom to enhance awareness of black and white photography to schools, colleges, local arts groups and the like.
- Sponsorship of talented students to support and promote darkroom enthusiasts.
- New initiatives will be announced on a regular basis all under the Defend the Darkroom banner.
Already Ilford Photo has invited twenty of the most highly regarded photography educators in the United Kingdom to the Harman technology headquarters in Mobberley, to highlight the campaign and learn about the latest advances in traditional photography. The event was organised by Ilford Photo alongside Key Photo, the leading supplier of photographic products to education and the public sector. A key focus of the two-day tour and conference event was how the merger of darkroom and digital technologies is influencing a new world of photography shaped by the coexistence of analogue and digital technology.
Matthew Finn, photography lecturer at Thames Valley University commented on the day: “Since visiting Harman I can see they are committed to keeping black and white photography alive and it is up to me and other photo educators across the country to also make sure it remains a widely used medium and not just a mere specialist niche interest."
“If this was to happen photography would lose an entire dimension. I support Ilford Photo’s campaign to communicate the dangers of losing darkroom, and the consequences of neglecting analogue photography.”
Ilford Photo believes that analogue and digital photography should have an equal standing in the photographic arena. By lobbying for equal recognition in generic industry debate and discussion, the campaign will help analogue photography, and darkroom photographers to gain the recognition they deserve.