I grew up with a darkroom in the basement..
..or at least it was a darkroom when nobody had any laundry to do. My dad sat at the kitchen table after dinned, developing film in a mysterious black bag that folded over his arms and back in on itself to keep the light out. Sometimes I was allowed downstairs for printing. I learned how to jostle the paper in the developer until images of my family appeared in the trays, watched my smiling siblings and mom and grandmas reverse fade into being as the photos curled and dried in the dark red light on the line overhead. My entire family life has been recorded in photographs.
But my dad’s love for photography had been born long before me. When I wasn't watching Lil Rascals or Chaplain on Super-8 reels from the library, I was carefully filling a projector carousel, and crawling into the shade under the piano, to view slides of my parents from their courtship in post-war Europe - pictures of them learning to ski, camping in the Alps, my incredibly young mom posing by a red double decker bus. What kind of place had buses like that? Not Oregon. There were pictures of them on their wedding day at City Hall in Copenhagen, with my surrogate grandpa Eric Porschmann. I was enthralled by these images. My mom used to ski?? She was so hip back then! A sky blue suit for a wedding dress and a pillbox hat for a veil. When I was old enough to take my own pictures, Dad taught me what he had taught himself - the rule of thirds, when to use which color filter. The darkroom was moved to the high school across the street where he taught photography. Here, I learned to choose the right paper, to dodge, burn, and create multiple exposures. He taught me the how to read a negative without printing it, the tricky skill of shooting slides.
When the digital age arrived, he showed me how to read a histogram, and why I needed to unlearn a lot about printing from negatives. Everything I love and know about photography and photographs, and how important they are to families, I learned from my Dad. Thanks, Dad!