Out Of The Dark

If you worked as a printer in some intensive print shop, such as dye transfer, or if you worked in the production centers of ad agencys and publishers, then you would know that the darkroom is finite gain, and maximum repetitiveness. Getting out of the dark, away from chemicals is the best path to progress in two ways: your vocabulary, and your profit.


My first job was as a dye printer. Actually, I trained in photography at a trade school. My interview I showed a portfolio, talked with a couple of people I’d work with, then I was given several transparencies and told to make a print; a dye transfer print.
Success, I did it, and was given a job, by which is meant that I was allowed to mix chemicals, next process film, clean floors, walls, empty trash, unload deliveries. That went on for a couple weeks. Then came my first assignment. Make seps and mats for this job; roll the prints, along with JT on that job– both operations had to be coordinated by me throughout the day. Each few days, I was given more responsibility, greater independance. And raises. Those were the welcome part.

6 Months Walking

at the end of my first 6 months, I went car shopping. It would replace my Studebaker that smelled of mold, oil, and brake fluid. I upgraded, bought a 8 year old Porsche that had just been fully restored, including interior wood trim. Racing green. A radio that had shortwave bands, and dialed from right to left. Low numbers were on the right hand side of the dial. I wasn’t 20 years old, only 6 months of school and I drove a classic Porsche, and essentially worked my own schedule; more hours, more pay. And I could photograph anytime. It seemed grreat.

Kodak Calls

Kodak sales reps always stopped by, usually bringing some freebies– books, passes, tickets, film. We used a ton, literally, of Kodak supplies. I recall one time the rep smiling as he came in from our parking lot, saying: How do I get a job here. Things must be going well. He pointed back at the cars in the lot. Mercedes, Porsche, Cadilac, Thunderbirds, Corvette, Shelby.
My response was that he’d have to stain his nails first.

Out of the Dark

Years later, I noticed that most of the biggest commercial photographers, big name folks, taking pages in the book, they all had a darkroom, much like the treadmill many own and use for storage, their darkrooms were used for storage of old files, and the occasional emergency camera repair.

Where The Money Is

They had all learned, early enough to take advantage, that money is made taking pictures, and talking with people, not by sloshing trays, and banging tanks. It was made in the light, not the dark. It was made over coffee, not hypo. Money is made by those closer to the client.

The closer to the client, the more money you make.