Bake to basic with Double Negative Darkroom
I Love Chatsoworth Road went to see what Double Negative darkroom is up to on Glyn Road. It was like a time travel to a time before computers and very inspiring. Founder Sebastian Sussmann is answering our questions.
Who are you guys?
We are Double Negative Darkroom. The members darkroom is run by me, Sebastian Sussmann. The Gallery, photo studio, courses and workshops and lab services are areas that I run and Guy runs Mesh screenprint next door and a few private workshops in the darkroom. I also teach several courses for the analogue offering for Photography Course London.
When did you move in to the area and when did your business start?
Double Negative Darkroom was founded in the Wick in August 2009. In its first incarnation I ran some courses and some lab services but it was only when Guy invited me to rebuild in the Glyn road yard that the members darkroom and community aspect of the endeavour really took off. In April 2011 we relaunched Double Negative at the Glyn Road studio complex. Since then in the last 18 months I have built a gallery and studio space and this is the part of the business that has allowed me to start running serious alt process courses and general photography workshops. The extra teaching space has allowed us to run regular wet plate courses and the studio provides space for an host of photographers and artists to work analogue with film/polaroid or plate processes. Double Negative Darkroom Workshops and courses are rapidly putting us on the analogue map as a leading European centre for Silver Gelatin and alternative process workshops
What does your business offer?
The members darkroom offers monthly and drop in rates for darkroom members. - Members benefit from discounts on our workshops as well as discounts on Silverprint purchase and at Chatsworth road shops.
I offer lab (film processing, C41, B&W (standard, 2 math, pyro and reversal), xprocessing, bleach bypass) and fine art hand printing services (B&W traditional and Lith printing) & hand printed colour analogue. I also work with Dealers and artists on historical negatives and edition/book work.
We offer regular darkroom courses and workshops in a host of alternative processes including our popular monthly wet plate course.
There is a daylight studio space to hire for shooting or events/workshops
A gallery space where we have regular exhibitions and put on a bi-annual members show
Can you explain wetplate in a sentence or two?
Wetplate is the oldest truly democratic photographic process. In essence you are crating an underexposed negative on a matt black surface which gives the impression of a positive. The collodion is floated onto a piece of glass or anodized tin and that glass or tin is soaked in a bath of silver Nitrate for 3 minutes. This is now a sensitized plate which you have about 12 minutes to use in camera (instead of film). Once this is developed you have a wet plate image.
Do you have guest teachers/instructors?
Yes ,John Brewer and Kate Horsley teach wet plate on a monthly basis we look forward to some interesting variations in 2014. John will also be teaching 3 colour gum and perhaps doing a platinum course in 2014.
Jonathan Stead will be coming to do his second silver gelatin dry plate course in October.
We continue with the master printer series with workshops from Adrian Ensor, Andrew Sanderson and hopefully Tim Rudman'
Peter Moseley is running another Carbon course in September and a Platinum course in October.
Rhiannon Adam will be running an Adventures in Polaroid workshop at the End of August and we hope to have a Daguerreotype workshop in early 2014.
Why do you prefer analogue?
The old arguments of quality are no longer interesting or really relevant. I use photography as a medium to inform my work and I love the freedom and control at every stage of the process that analogue awards you. The very fact that you are working with a neg making process allows you huge amount of freedom in how you choose to work with your raw materials. I also love the 'beautiful accident' that awful (occasionally potentially life threatening- especially if its chemical :)) mistake that by accident produces something beautiful. Lith printing was discovered in this fashion and has become one of the most interesting and expressive forms of the medium.
Can you give us a comment/opinion about the Chats Rd area?
I've lived in the area for over 10 years and whilst it has changed significantly a lot has remained the same. When I first moved in it was technically possible to live a whole life on the street, from the hospital to the funeral parlour (although you'd have to be a massive Homerton Hermit) now it is largely possible except we're missing a post office and a decent DIY shop. It's always felt like a little microcosm of London life.
Who is your favourite photographer?
There is a photographer called Aaron Rose, a real alchemist, he was one of my original inspirations to start working with analogue photography and printing in ernest. I also really admire Wolfang Moersch's printing work and practice (he's also a modern alchemist)
DNDR is located on 178a Glyn Road in Clapton, London.