Seven Years of Black & White

A Message from the Director of the Darkroom@Engine

I’ve been able to share with the community my passion for black & white film photography. I had hoped I could do it forever. Unfortunately, with Engine losing their home this fall and no sure plans for the future, the darkroom is left in the same predicament. It’s with a heavy heart, I’m sad to say, the darkroom will be closing its doors for good on July 31, 2023. 

The gratitude and appreciation for those who have helped build this space with either money, time or materials is unmeasurable. We made it through a move during a pandemic and the need for hands-on image making was highlighted when membership not only doubled but tripled, and has continued to stay that way. 

What started out as a small project blossomed into a garden of magical moments I wouldn’t trade for anything. In seven years I’ve been able to teach over 100 Intro to the Darkroom Classes which is where I show individuals step-by-step how to process film and make darkroom prints. Teaching those were my favorite. To see the excitement in the students when seeing their own negatives come to life or their print slowly developing to an image under the red safe light was pure magic! 

Beyond intros we were able to run workshops on pinhole, cyanotype, albumen and sun printing. We even hosted a birthday party for the darkroom where the public was invited to come and make sun prints and had a gallery opening the next day with work covering the gallery made by the community. Gallery shows were created in the darkroom by Julie K Gray, Michael Rodriguez Torrent, and Cheryl Boucher. Along with gallery shows, one of our members, Emma Pidden, made the cover to her poetry book in the darkroom and we hosted a poetry reading with the Portland Poetry Society highlighting her success. I could go on and on but ultimately what I’m trying to say is a lot of good has come out of a small space, because it had a community like ours.

If I could open a new space, a permanent home on my own I would. Unfortunately, it’s just not feasible in the near future. I can’t just keep moving the darkroom because it needs such a dedicated location with water, electricity and ventilation. For now, I focus on my appreciation for everyone who made this space possible. The level of gratitude and accomplishment I feel is immense and I can’t thank you enough for the years of support and generosity! You all helped create and sustain a space that had a huge impact on many artists who needed a place to turn ideas into tactile photographs. 

A place to KEEP FILM ALIVE. 

Tina Johnson, Director of the Darkroom@Engine

In celebration of the past seven years of black & white, please enjoy this short video: