Deep in the catacombs beneath Chateau Neuf there lives a tireless group of friendly photographers.
– People have a fascination with the analogue film process at the moment, explains Torkild, the technical officer.
The smell of photographic chemicals is very distinct, and instantly takes me back to visiting the developing shop as a kid. My tour guide steps into what looks like a science fiction transporter, and shuts the door. It’s a light lock, and when he has disappeared from the metal cylinder, I step in after him. After some much less skillful swivels and clunks, I stumble out into an almost dark room save for the soft, red lighting that is used to navigate while processing black and white prints. Seeing passionate photographers hunched over the enlargers and splashing pictures about in the tubs, it’s easy to see how the hours could fly by in here.
Any photographer worth their salt understands the importance of a healthy relationship with film.
For some, film cameras are what they grew up with; limited shots, pricey, and no instant satisfaction. For others, analogue is seen as vintage and retro, made cool as it was made redundant. But any photographer worth their salt understands the importance of a healthy relationship with film. The very limitations many mention are exactly the features that teach a photographer to value and think about each shot. It doesn’t have to be a fading art yet, and if the Photo Club is anything to go by, it’s still very much alive and kicking. Every Tuesday at 7pm, they gather down in the basement to process photos in the darkroom, socialising and discussing their prints long into the night.
– There are members down there most nights of the week, but Tuesdays are the most active, and are designed to build a sense of community in the darkroom, Torkild says in the busy lab.
As a member, you can choose to subscribe to use the darkroom, but if digital photography is where your heart lies, there’s a professional studio to explore, with lighting kits and backdrop rolls. There is also the opportunity to cover many of the events at Chateau Neuf, from concerts to debates, and the club is always looking for new photographers that can help out. Beside being a place to work, it is also meant to be a place to learn. The club organises lectures by photographers, workshops and excursions to encourage members to meet and to keep shooting. Each semester, an exhibition is held in the house, usually in the front gallery, Galleri Neuf, but the next one is set to roll out in Bokcafeen in the next few months. Whether you’re still struggling with the ISO setting or you’re a regular behind the eyepiece, the Photo Club is a great place to meet some camera keen folk – just don’t turn the lights on in the darkroom without asking.
Check out Fotoklubbens work on their Flickr-page
See also other articles from former association visits:
Cinema Neuf – «Filmrull, popcorn og Cinema Neuf»
Regimet – «Regimet»
BokCaféen – «Lavkultur i BokCaféen»
Tappetårnet – «Raising the bar»
Introduksjon – «En aktivs bekjennelser»