How to Build a Portable Darkroom


A store bought, ready to use, portable darkroom can be extremely expensive. Building your own portable darkroom can provide some challenges, but is a less expensive option that will allow you to create a darkroom tailored to your specific needs. Read on to learn how to build a portable darkroom.

Things You'll Need

  • Rolling storage cabinet with at least four shelves
  • Collapsible table
  • A light tight space
  • Black-out sheeting
  • Weather stripping
  • Photo developing equipment (as desired by the photographer)
  • Buy or build a cabinet. It is best to purchase a plastic storage cabinet, as it is a lighter weight and will make your darkroom more portable. The cabinet should have at least four shelves, however the size depends on your darkroom needs and how much portability you would like it to have. Add wheels to your cabinet for easier mobility and storage.

  • Use a collapsible table for your counter surface. Be sure the surface is a material that can be easily cleaned. Wood is not a good option as it quickly soaks up spilled chemicals and can cross contaminate future photos. The work area should be large enough to fit three processing trays.

  • Set up your portable darkroom in a kitchen, bathroom or any space with running water. It is best to place your portable darkroom in a room with only one door and few or no windows to make light proofing easier. The room will need at least one electrical outlet as well.

  • Make the room light tight. You can opt to develop your photos at night to make the process easier, however always test for light leaks by turning off all of the lights and waiting at least five minutes for your eyes to adjust. Cover large leaks around doors and windows with black-out sheeting, available at your photo supply store. Keep a roll of weather stripping in your portable cabinet to temporarily provide extra coverage for any areas where light can still get through.

  • Store your wet objects such as chemicals, buckets and trays separately from your dry objects such as the changing bag, daylight tank and reference books.

  • Keep commonly used utensils such as tongs, enlarger, safe light, beakers film and photo papers in the top shelves, again separating the wet from the dry objects to avoid contamination.

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