Dr Sara Dominici (Senior Lecturer in Photographic History and Visual Culture) has been awarded a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant to support her research project on The Photographic Darkroom in the Northern Transatlantic World, 1850s-1910s.

This project explores the development and use of the photographic darkroom in Britain and North America between the 1850s and 1910s. From portable dark-tents to dedicated structures, the darkroom was central to photographers’ lives as simultaneously a site of often unruly physical conditions and social relations, and a modern laboratory of memories and the imagination kindled by processing photographs. By reconstructing how people across the English-speaking world responded to the challenges and opportunities of operating the darkroom in vastly different environments, this study is the first to provide a comprehensive account of how this space affected photographers’ relationship to their practice and identity. In doing so, it elaborates a conceptual framework for historical studies of the darkroom globally. 

The grant will support the archival research into photographic journals, images, and darkroom equipment held in the UK and USA, and the dissemination of its results.  

Related to this project, in 2023 Sara convened the international In the Photographic Darkroomconference, and edited a special issue of PhotoResearcher on the theme “The Darkroom: Chemical, Cultural, and Industrial” (vol. 41, 2024) stemming from the event.