The Student News Site of Simmons University

The Simmons Voice

The Student News Site of Simmons University

The Simmons Voice

The Student News Site of Simmons University

The Simmons Voice

A spotlight on Simmons’ darkroom

“I did all my growing up there in the darkroom.”
Jamie Perkins

The Simmons University darkroom, tucked behind the Trustman Art Gallery on the fourth floor of the Main College Building, is the heart of the school’s film photography community. Students and faculty use the space to develop and print black-and-white film, a task that is not easily accessible or affordable elsewhere. 

These processes require a light-tight room and specialized equipment such as an enlarger, grain focuser, easel, enlarging paper, and chemicals. 

According to a Boston University news article in 2019, public access darkrooms are rare in Boston. At the time of the article’s publication, the Brookline Adult and Community Education program was the only remaining local program to offer darkroom classes and use. 

The Brookline Adult and Community Education website still advertises darkroom classes and open darkroom sessions. The tuition is $275 for eight sessions, each offered one day a week for three hours. 

“People ask me all the time, ‘Where can I go and print?’ And that’s a hard one. There aren’t a lot of community darkrooms left,” said Edie Bresler, a photography Professor of Practice and the Photo Lab Coordinator at Simmons.

Bresler has a darkroom in her basement, as she has in every place she’s lived since she was 22. However, most students and faculty rely on the university’s. 

Jaclyn Kain, an adjunct photography professor and Simmons alum, is saying goodbye to the darkroom after nearly 27 years of use. Kain took her first film photography course at Simmons in 1996, then returned to teach in 2008. However, in light of the recently announced cuts to the art department, this will be Kain’s last semester. 

“I did all my growing up there in the darkroom, and I’ve been through three iterations of a darkroom there now, So it’s a little emotional and hard for me to, know that this is the end of that chapter,” said Kain.

Due to Boston’s lack of community darkrooms, Kain uses the Simmons darkroom as her film photography “hub.” She uses a makeshift space in her basement for alternative processes, such as cyanotyping, but she prefers not to work with chemicals at home. On the rare occasions that she does, she disposes of them at Simmons because photographic chemical disposal is complicated. 

Laura Brink Pisinski, the Vice President of University Real Estate Development and Facilities Management at Simmons, said the university has no immediate plans to dismantle the darkroom. 

When asked if converting the Simmons darkroom into a public darkroom rather than eventually taking it down, Brink Piskinski said, “It’s certainly something we can look into.”

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About the Contributor
Jamie Perkins
Jamie Perkins, Staff Writer
Jamie Perkins (2024, they/he) is a Communications major on the journalism track with a double minor in Photography and Women's and Gender Studies. They love both film and digital photography, reading, and spending time with his best friend/dog Kinzie!

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