Magic Act: Geoffrey Roberts’s Darkroom Tricks Captivate His Social Media Followers


Tech Talk: Geoffrey Roberts shot this image with an iPhone 5S and the phone’s 4.1mm lens, at 1/35 sec, f/2.2, ISO 80, in program exposure, pattern metering.
© Geoffrey Roberts

As he neared the end of the process of making prints for an exhibition of his large- and medium-format photography, Geoffrey Roberts was ready to spread the word about the upcoming event. “I was in the darkroom once or twice a week for eight or nine months leading up to the show,” he says, “and to promote it I took pictures in the darkroom and posted them to Flickr, Facebook, Instagram—basically everywhere.”

He found that viewers of the photos were “rather excited about seeing prints in trays. I realized the darkroom was a mysterious place, something out of the past. I got the feeling people thought I was some kind of magician.”

Roberts’s exhibition images were taken with Arca-Swiss cameras, but for darkroom photos he reached for his iPhone 5S. “Straightaway, I could upload the pictures to social media,” he says. He often uses his phone when he’s shooting with black-and-white film and wants to take a color photo. “Also, my photography is quite formal, and if I want a picture that’s less than serious, I have the iPhone. I’m not bothered by how someone makes a picture; what interests me is whether it’s a good picture.”

Roberts, who lives in Sydney, Australia, is a dedicated photo enthusiast who takes pictures for the love of it. He agreed that this image, which we saw on Flickr, was a suitable symbol of recent developments in the history of photography.

You can view images from Geoffrey Roberts’s exhibition, The Kind Warmth Awaits, at his website, If you’re in or near Marrickville, New South Wales, in Australia, and want to do some printing of your own, check out the darkroom facilities Roberts uses at