Photographers in the Binghamton area will soon have a space to call their own.
Beginning in February, a community darkroom, photography exhibition and studio space will be opened by the Bundy Museum of History & Art under the name Binghamton Photo. Olivia Tonin, the Binghamton Photo darkroom director and exhibit designer at the Bundy Museum, said the darkroom will fulfill an unmet need in the area.
“There was no community darkroom,” said Tonin, who graduated from Binghamton University in 2013. “It is oriented toward the community, for the people who don’t have the resources of an educational institution to take advantage of.”
Binghamton Photo will offer a combination of services at its location at 32 Cedar St. once it officially opens on Feb. 25. Aside from the dark room, the building on Cedar Street will house both a permanent and rotating gallery as well as artist studios available for rent.
Tonin explained that opening the community darkroom has been a long process, hastened by the disappearance of locations in the area with the capability to process film.
“[The Bundy Museum is] kind of involved in the arts community and it’s something that we’ve wanted to do for a long time, and only recently, within the last couple of years, has it become impossible to get negatives processed in Broome County anymore,” Tonin said. “That’s when we realized, the impetus was on someone in the community to kind of create the space for it, and we decided that that should be us.”
The Cedar Street building was purchased by the founder of the Bundy Museum, Michael Weinstein, and adapted for the use of Binghamton Photo. Tonin explained that the Bundy Museum’s maintenance staff were able to completely transform the basement into a darkroom.
“The maintenance staff took the basement of that building from dirt floor, brick wall, unfinished basement to [a] fully functional, heated darkroom and it’s completely finished now,” Tonin said.
The gung-ho, from-the-ground-up spirit has permeated the operational style of Binghamton Photo. The space will be staffed by volunteers and interns, who will be responsible for maintaining equipment, selling materials and providing general help. In addition to providing a space for community members to develop their own film, photo developing services will be offered, as well as classes taught by skilled professionals that offer instruction on how to process negatives and develop them. Binghamton Photo will be open three days a week — including Saturday, which will serve as a teaching day. The darkroom hosted a general interest meeting last Saturday to recruit volunteers and discuss programming.
Ahead of the opening in February, the Bundy Museum is exhibiting a collection of materials from the former Binghamton-based Ansco photographic company, including cameras, film, photographs and promotional items. This exhibition will become part of the permanent collection on display at the Cedar Street location.
The opening reception for Binghamton Photo will be held on Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. The reception will coincide with the opening of a juried show of local photographers, featuring film photos shot in Broome County, in addition to the unveiling of two large permanent collections in the same space.