Since the early 19th century, dark rooms have been used to develop photos for the newspaper and for print. Salem High School is bringing back this old tradition by reinstating the school’s dark room, led by Megan Elgin, an English teacher at the school, for students of today to enjoy.
The school’s dark room had been left unused for 15 years, but thanks to the REACH program and students who showed interest in learning about prints, the Photography Club was able to start up last semester and put it back into action.
When asked why she decided to take on the task of sponsoring the club, Elgin said she did it “because it’s fun! I spent so much time in the dark room when I was in high school and I loved it.”
She added that nobody in journalism or yearbook [class] last year knew why all the pictures were black and white. “And that’s why. Because we had to take our own pictures, develop our own film, and that was our only option. But really, it’s now just for fun.”
So far, a group of students who have shown interest in photography have been working alongside the Journalism Club on the newsletter, getting photographs for their newsletter project, the newspaper, and the yearbook. The Journalism Club is led by SHS journalism teacher Monika Spaulding.
On Thursday, March 2, some prints the students had been working on were put on display at the Salem Community School’s Night with the Arts event. The Photography Club had their own display at the event.
“We just take photos for fun,” Elgin said, “...and it’s been fun opening up the dark room and getting to teach you all [the students] how to do that stuff and getting to know you better than I would in the classroom.”
Sophomore and club participant Chloe Zink said that she joined because the club members were “doing film and different cool things like that, it looked awesome, and I have always wanted to do that. I watch a lot of movies that are set in the past, and I have always seen them do that but I never really knew what it was.”
Zink said that her favorite thing she’s done so far has been using the film camera and taking pictures with it. “It’s awesome and a fun thing to do,” she stated, “then being able to develop the film and doing stuff like that, it's so much fun and it just looks amazing.”
Sophomore and club participant Raelee Cockerill said that she joined the club because she enjoys taking pictures and thought “it would be a fun thing to learn how people used to do it back then.” Cockerill stated that her “favorite thing, overall, would be taking the pictures with the film camera and then developing them. I enjoy developing because I have never done that before, and I like challenging myself.” She also said that she enjoys being part of the club because it “makes me feel cool and old and like my dad.”
Reya Snyder, who is also a sophomore, said that she joined the club because “I like to take pictures, and I thought it would be cool to develop them in the dark room… I’ve never done that before and I think it’s really cool to put it through the chemicals and watch your picture develop.” Her favorite thing she has done so far has been learning how to develop the pictures. “I learned how to develop my own photos because I didn't know how it happened,” Snyder said, “like it was so confusing, because how do you get a picture from this to this? So I kind of learned how to develop my own photos, and I think that’s pretty cool. I think it’s kind of like a thing people used to do in the past before they had digital cameras so they HAD to do it that way, so I think it's really cool that we’re bringing it back.”
For some concepts in the future, Elgin said that they are “just kind of playing it by ear.” Some things she would like to include is working in the lab, doing more photoshop, and refining their developing techniques.