The Disappearance of the Dark Room

Stranger Things fans may remember a scene in season three where Jonathan was developing photos in the “red room”, otherwise known as a dark room. Whether it gave someone a feeling of nostalgia, confusion, or interest, the scene exhibits another essential part of 80s culture. A feature that our own Rutherford High School used to own! Until this year, there was a dark room located next to the photo room (206), in which photo classes and the photo club could participate in projects that required photo development. Unfortunately, film is no longer necessary to learn photography due to the growth of digital cameras.

Photo Credit: The Duffer Brothers

Nonetheless, the dark room still holds a special place in the hearts of those who grew up with it, including RHS’s photo teacher. In an interview with Mr.Mett, he says, “For the average person, [the darkroom] probably doesn’t hold a place in their day-to-day, which is sad because I love the dark room. That’s how I learned photography.” He also believes that the darkroom is a “cool experience to have,” and as one of the last people to use the darkroom, I can agree that it was an interesting experience. Learning how to use a film camera expanded my interest in old photography which is why it is unfortunate that the darkroom won’t be used by freshmen or future students of RHS.

The discussion of removing the darkroom has been going on since 2008, according to Mr. Mett, and has just now gone away during a time when 80s culture is having a strong revival. Artists such as Kate Bush, Tears for Fears, The Smiths, etc. are rising in popularity once again with the Smiths having 10.1 M listeners on Spotify. Even 80s fashion is making an impact on teens today such as scrunchies and leg warmers. This revival could be tied back to the large use of social media since it allows for what was once obscure to become trendy. Mr. Mett stated, “I don’t think the dark room will come back, I think it’s gone, it will be a memory,” but maybe it has a chance to make a return in this wave of 80s pop culture. 

Featured Image Credit: CBU Photo Studio