With digital photography on the rise, it seems that good old fashioned wet darkrooms would be a thing of the past. Well I’m here to let you that many hardcore film photographers still using some form of darkroom processing (whether it be developing film, making prints, or both), and that you too can begin to process your own images at a fraction of what it used to cost.
Photographic enlargers, easels, film/print washers, etc., can be inexpensively found on sites like EBay, Craigslist, and many of the analog photography forums out there (like APUG and Large Format Photography Forum).
As far as space, you don’t really need a lot. I load and unload film, and do most of my film developing in the bathroom using a Jobo rotary processor. While I am fortunate enough to have space in my garage for several enlargers and processing tables, you don’t really need that either. Any small light-tight space (like a cubby under the staircase or even the bathroom) can be used for making paper enlargements from your negatives.
Chemicals can be stored in either photo chemical containers (bought from B&H or Adorama), or, as I do, in gallon size heavy plastic gas cans. You can dispose of your exhausted chemicals by taking them to your neighborhood landfill’s hazardous waste disposal site. Mine will accept up to 5 gallons of chemicals at no charge (although they do hate to see me coming).
So don’t think for a moment that true darkrooms no longer exist. It’s cheap to get into and the reward of processing your own film and prints are well worth the effort. Have fun!!