Uncovering the Forgotten Function of These Vintage Containers

Source: Reddit

Do you still recall the times when family photo albums were something that people valued most, and every single photo was taken to reflect a certain moment in life? The mild stench of leather and the sound of flipping through pages of a book makes one feel like he or she is sitting in the living room with their family members, listening to stories of the past times. However, let us go a step further and picture that in this present generation, these precious photographs are hand processed in a darkroom.

Photography at the beginning of the 20th century was both science and art and the photo studios were the laboratories of the artists. Some of the amenities included the developing tanks which were the backbone of every good portrait. These tanks were usually ceramic since these did not undergo chemical reactions which were required to develop medium and large format films particularly the 4×5 inch and 8×10 inch films. Just picture the studios waiting to carefully cut their negatives and put them into the sleeves and then into the long rows in the preparation for the process of development, fixing and washing.

These developing tanks were not mere objects, but they were a part of culture in the making. In the middle of the 20th century, the usage of medium format photography was most appropriate for portraits. It enabled contact printing which gave images with high contrast and resolution and did not require large amounts of money to be spent on enlargers. This made high-quality photography affordable, espousing the spirit of families, people and moments in life that could be clearly seen up to this date.

Source: Reddit

Let’s just imagine these ceramic tanks and think of the photographers who spent so much time in the studio to arrive at the perfection of the artwork. Just think of the soft buzzing of the darkroom, the red safety light illuminating the room while film was being treated by experienced technicians. These tanks depict a story of passion and creativity, an era where taking a picture entitled one to be very patient and accurate.

Thus, the heritage of these developing tanks speaks volumes about the creativity of the first photographers. They are a South Asian troupe of photographers of a bygone era that recalls when every photograph was a work of art. These tanks that no longer roar and move, store the memories of numerous joyful laughter, spontaneous glances and immortal personas.

Picture being in a photo studio in the early 1900s the moment you step into the building. The smell of the developer and fixer is still present in the air and trays of ceramic containers are prepared for the next developing process. Every single tank, chipped and dented, was a device of change that changed the negative into something positive and more importantly, something that could be felt. This is a situation that not only reflects on the advancement of the photography equipment but also the role of photography in the society particularly on the aspect of storing memories.

Source: Reddit

As the world continues to move forward with the use of technology, especially in photography, these developing tanks represent the history of photography. These cameras are a reminder of how taking a picture was a thoughtful activity, and it allows people to be in touch with the fundamental idea of documenting the world around them.