Kim Conway is a Resort member and runs The Darkroom Project, a community analogue photography darkroom which offers workshops for all levels of ability, in traditional black and white darkroom printing and alternative and historic photography processes. The Darkroom Project has been running since 2015 and alongside the workshop programme, also provides professional developing and printing facilities for the public to hire and work independently.
I applied to SECCADS for the workshop sessions and mentoring as the business was keeping its head above water – just, but I felt I could do with some focused guidance as I often felt I was running blindfolded and had adopted organisational methods that could do with being revisited.
The workshops were held over two consecutive Saturdays in January 2020. Each session there were between 10 and 15 participants, all local creatives. The nature of the talks and activities we were encouraged to participate in became ice breakers and this enabled natural and collective networking, with a sense of a common purpose. Almost immediately I had evolved from being a solo business owner, struggling, feeling isolated, unable to make any purposeful headway to a creative business owner amongst many that all share a passion to succeed and a desire to connect.
From the story telling workshop, where we learned techniques for effective communication, to the workshop regarding creative copyright and the session on bookkeeping and finances – the two days were packed with essential and most importantly relevant information that for me filled in the missing gaps that for so long had hampered the progress of my business. A lot of the organisational structure I had adopted from the beginning was modelled on standard business models and this was not always the most appropriate or compatible with the nature of The Darkroom Project. I walked away form the SECCADS workshops with a clear understanding of how a ‘creative’ business model works, from a legal, structural and practical perspective , and how to implement and integrate this into taking The Darkroom Project forwards towards a more vibrant and stable community asset.
And I met people there that I am now good friends with. We often meet up and brainstorm ideas using the techniques we discovered at the Workshops.
The Darkroom Project is in the process of implementing organisational changes to improve the overall running of the business. I was able to focus on creating a realistic and achievable business plan and even though social distancing measures due to the Coronavirus pandemic have been a challenge, I am taking the opportunity to work behind the scenes. I am very optimistic about the future of The Darkroom Project now.