Steve Shostek in the SSDP Gallery

I was hit with the photo bug when my sister, Ellen, got her very first film camera, a Canon AT-1, back in 1974. I was only 10. My father, who was also interested in photography, built her a darkroom in the basement. Our journey would begin by scouting and planning where and when we would shoot. We would scout out locations on our bikes. During our pedals, she explained to me how important it was to pick the subject and what you were trying to express, how light impacted what we saw or didn't see.

What really intrigued me was how she took her concepts to print. The darkroom was a magical place. We would take the images from film and turn them into negatives in complete darkness. Fumbling to take the film out of the camera and wrapping them in metal clanking canisters. Our next step would be to shine the negatives onto Kodak paper zooming in or out, exposing the paper to light. We were in complete control.

Ellen had this glow-in-the-dark timer that would ding to signal us when the first process was done and the next process needed to begin. Bathing the paper in toxic chemicals at precise moments required our utmost attention. Finally, in the last bath, our image would slowly come to life like magic. My sister and I spent hours down there.

The darkroom is long gone but my passion for that process lives today. How do you take a subject, any subject, and capture it from the real world and turn it into a lasting moment to share?