My name is Mike Caputo and I'm raising funds to help with the startup cost of a community darkroom in Hilo, Hawaii. My partner in this endeavor is Eric Liefer, owner of Big Island Print shop. With his proven business skills and my experience in the wet lab, we make an outstanding team for making The Hawaii Darkroom a reality.
As rewards for your support, I am offering signed darkroom prints, day passes to the studio (that will be valid until used), and discounted memberships that include developing and printing classes that will appeal to the beginner and those with a bit more experience who are just looking for a refresher course.
If you’re a local looking to join us in the studio, or even if you’re reading this from the other side of the world and just want to support our endeavor, there’s a reward for you, so why not pledge your dollars and get some art in return!
Including prints as rewards gives the entire film community around the world the chance to be involved in helping new and old photographers get into the darkroom here in Hawaii. Even if you never visit the islands, by contributing to this project you will have done a great service to strengthen analog photography for those who will.
Ultimately, this is why I am building a community darkroom. I want to spread my passion for film to everyone I speak with, and to create easy public access to this type of facility. There's nothing like it in the state, and I want to change that for as many film photographers as I can.
The prints on offer will range from 5x7 color postcards to traditional B&W prints on 8x10 Ilford RC Pearl paper, up to 11x14 Art 300 fiber that will be selenium toned. I regularly sell my prints via Instagram and normally charge twice the amount I'm offering them on Kickstarter. The fact is, I’m not selling these prints to support my photography, I’m selling them to support the community. I want to put every dime into making this public darkroom a smashing success and create a terrific place for everyone to enjoy. By purchasing one of my prints, you are helping me do that.
If you live in Hawaii we will see you in the studio soon. Come by and talk with us about shooting black and white film - if you need some we can supply it. Use the day pass on your return visit to develop that film and make a print! I'm sure you will want to join after you see the photo slowly appear on paper submerged in the developing tray. It's magical to watch.
If you don't live on the islands, then why not take a well-needed vacation? I’m sure you want to break up that brutal winter - we can only sympathize living in this tropical climate. Come to the Big Island and bask on the beaches, have drinks with umbrellas, visit Volcanoes National Park, take photos of rainbows and waterfalls then develop and print that film while you're here! You’ll love it here, especially now that you can spend some of your bright tropical holiday in a darkened room with the glorious smell of photographic chemicals.
Membership will entitle you to access the darkroom during hours of operation and it includes all the chemistry and cleanup service. I have moved all my personal equipment to the studio… I’m brining my personality as well, there will be a sign hanging on the door that reads "Ye Olde Darktoilet" which is the name I gave the bathroom at my house. I monopolized it more than my teenage daughter with all my photography potions and gear.
I have also just ordered massive amounts of equipment; from a negative drying oven, to print dryers, a handful of enlargers, jobo machines, clocks and easels, contact printing frames, etc. Everything a proper darkroom needs is on the way. It's going to be awesome!
Developing and printing classes
We will also be offering developing and printing classes to all of our members and non-members are welcome to sign up. There will be a range of courses designed to cater for everyone from the beginner to those just looking for a refresher, to more advanced printing techniques and toning.
These courses will include:
- Shooting B&W film
- Developing 35mm up to large format
- Basic printing with multigrade filters, dodging and burning, split-grade printing, and toning the final print
If you have never shot film before there isn't a better time to start. Film is coming back - Kodak released two new film stocks in 2018 - and we want The Hawaii Darkroom to help you along on your photographic journey.
The Hawaii Darkroom is going to be a special place. It's located in historic Hilo town on the east side of the island between the Kress Building and the Pacific Tsunami Museum; you can walk out of the front door and watch the surf roll in at Bayfront. Not too bad being located in paradise. But don't take my word for it - better to come and see for yourself.
We need your support!
The Hawaii Darkroom is well on its way; the company is formed, the lease is signed, and we have already begun setting up shop. We are aiming for a soft opening for members on March 15th. It will be fully open to the public in April.
The Kickstarter funds will be going to all the additional supplies that have to be ordered; materical costs for building the fixtures, sink frames, enlarger tables, rework some plumbing, and ventilation equipment. All the shelves and fixtures in the place are going to be custom made. I'm a firefighter in my full time profession and my co-worker at the firehouse has a wood milling business, I recruited him to help and we are constructing it all together.
This darkroom is being built come hell or high-water. I'm working on it from the moment I wake until I go to bed well after midnight. It's a labor of love and I've never been so enthusiastic about working this hard. I could talk the nuts off a motorcycle with how excited I am about it. Every bit of support will be received with my eternal gratitude - but remember, you’re not just helping me, you’re helping every future member and user of the studio and growing the film community. Now that's pretty good, pretty neat!
I'll be updating the Instagram account regularly and would be stoked if you follow along on this adventure: @hawaiidarkroom
Here are some slide film photos I took of the surrounding area. I picked the favorites to entice you to visit.
The darkroom PRINTS I will be making for rewards.
Metal prints offered in rewards:
Risks and challenges
When funding is reached all rewards will be given by the date specified. I will ensure the prints are made. It will be my pleasure to print them and ship with passes and memberships.
The initial risk was how much demand there is for a community darkroom. In reality, I underestimated the public desire for one. After announcing the news on social media and to the local photo clubs, the new risk is the space will not be large enough to support how many people want to join. That's a terrific problem! My primary drive will be to keep that interest going. It's not difficult for me, I am so enthusiastic it transfers over to everyone I discuss the darkroom with. We already have photographers that want to fly groups to Hawaii to do multiple day seminars of shooting, processing, and printing. Don't you?
The main challenge is fitting the space with the proper plumbing for a darkroom. It can be achieved. I consulted with a local gentleman who designed darkrooms as his profession for 15 years. We planned the layout together to best utilize the space. He was the best I could do. I tried the Ouija Board to summon Ansel Adams but all I got was "DIY"Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)