Since the inception of Nation of Billions, there’s been no question about our precision focus on putting photography at the centre of our stories and there’s never been a better time to be a photographer. “Photography has emerged as the hottest new investment”, according to the Guardian and the numbers are stacking up from auction to auction.
But before all you budding photographers start heading off into the digital ether trying to work out how you’re going to make your millions from an Insta post, make no mistake, it’s the art of the print that’s catching those collectors.
A photographers legacy is the print
To create the legacy, you need the artefact and it has become abundantly clear that those artefacts don’t exist in the digital space. Just like vinyl has found a new resurgence in music, in the art world there’s “a clamour for a craft that is seen as disappearing. The big market is for black and white, and for nostalgia.”
There’s never been a better time for a new type of darkroom. While universities are decommissioning darkrooms, and reducing their commitment to hands-on experiential learning in photography, there’s a brighter future ahead.
And it all began when Eddie met Kate. Working together on the Cover Story feature for Nation of Billions with Kate Tempest, sparked their bright idea to prototype the first ever pop-up darkroom at the Brighton Festival earlier this year. As part of Kate’s vision for bringing art and narrative together, Bright Rooms became an experiential space for anyone to come in, take a camera and make their work come to life in print.
Now photographer Eddie Otchere and filmmaker Dan Fontanelli are launching The Bright Rooms in Peckham based on the holy trinity of photography; THE CAMERA, THE NEGATIVE, THE PRINT. “This is what we believe makes analogue Photography a keystone of the arts and the history of art. From processing to the print, Bright Rooms will invite the next generation of photographers to learn the craft of photographic printing.” Based at Peckham Levels, they are building a beautiful new space, capable of producing any size archival print.
An open access darkroom built for 21st century photographers, Bright Rooms will offer memberships and courses, with a program of events, exhibitions, talks, workshops and educational outreach.
They’ve got the space, they’ve sourced their equipment and they’ll have courses for beginners and professional photographers. Providing everything from a hands-on introduction to analogue photography to masterclasses in printing technique, alternative processes, film developing, liquid light and many more, “we want to enable new and experienced photographers to print with a work flow that incorporates digital technology with analogue practice.”
Ahead of the launch Bright Rooms have kicked off a crowdfunding campaign offering early supporters the chance to pledge for merchandise, courses or limited edition prints including Jimi Hendrix by Terence Donovan, Malcolm X by Eve Arnold, and more from Khalik Allah, Charlie Phillips, and Eddie Otchere.
Talking about the signed print of Malcolm X by Eve Arnold, Eddie explains, “When I put the Kickstarter together I wanted to source images that were iconic and prints that were rare, sincere and valuable. I kept thinking of the Jay Z lyric in ‘The Story of OJ’ about generational wealth and art, thinking that photography is more than art can ever be. The thing is, photography in its purest form is the truth. Eve Arnold with her camera never lied, she sought the truth.”
And we’re putting our commitment into the next generation of photographers. Nation of Billions in partnership with the Bright Rooms are really excited to be working together to launch a scholarship programme for young photographers to participate and learn key skills, so subscribe here for more news and announcements.