We caught up with Vans photographer Anthony Acosta to ask him a few questions about his newly built darkroom that was supported by the Vans "These Projects Are Ads For Creativity" campaign.
Have a read below then check the video of his amazing set up!
First off, congrats on the darkroom it looks sick! is it something you've been thinking about making for a while and was it scary to pull the trigger on it?
Thank you! I have always wanted a darkroom ever since I had my first place of my own. My first house was small and never had the room for it, especially with kids. But we did have a large yard and opted for a mini ramp instead! We just recently moved into a larger home and I was able to have a room for my office/work stuff. It ended up working out perfectly for the darkroom. It’s still where I do my office stuff too, so its perfect for both.
How long did it take to make?
It was built from start to finish in 3 weeks! When Vans first hit me about doing a project for this series, they told me that whatever it was I chose to do was to be done in about 2-3 weeks max. So I had to plan everything, get the crew together and get going on it right away. I can’t believe we pulled it off. It was super stressful at times because we were also in the middle of remodelling our kitchen and it was right in the middle of a full-blown pandemic. But thank God it worked out.
Was your wife cool with you drilling holes in the side of your house for the ventilation? That's quite a commitment. Haha!
Yes, my wife was totally cool with it! She’s rad... she never stresses out on stuff that I get into, she knew we had a plan and wanted to do things proper.
Do you have any darkroom and printing experience?
When I got my first camera in 2004 I took a B&W photo class at a local college. That’s where I fell in love with the darkroom. I would print for hours and hours. The instructor was super rad and let myself and a couple of other students print as much as we wanted most of the time. Sometimes he would leave and go get lunch or run errands and let us print in the lab by ourselves, it was an amazing experience. Then I started shooting full time and never got to print much anymore until recently. A public lab opened up near me and I would go in there and print and pay by the hour. It was fun relearning it all over again. But it was getting very expensive just blowing through hours and paper!
Camera bags can get very heavy, is a film camera always something you've carried with you?
Camera bags are soooo heavy! But never too heavy for an extra film and body and a few rolls! Actually, I go through phases with film. I will sometimes shoot a lot of it and sometimes I go months without shooting any. Then I get sparked and shoot tons, and then chill for a bit. But yeah, for the most part, I always try and have a film camera with me. I tend to shoot more personal stuff with film, especially my family.
Did you manage to shoot much film at The Skateboard Mag? Digital is usually the go-to for trips and articles.
It was all film for me when I first started working for The Mag. The first camera that I bought was a Hasselblad 501CM and that’s what I had to work with. They would hook up all the film and processing that was needed. It was amazing! But as time went on, they stopped paying for film and processing and just like that everything went digital.
Do you still have your Hasselblad? It would sick to see some black and white prints from that.
Yes I still have my Hasselblad! I don’t I will ever get rid of it, it means too much to me! I printed one photo I took of my son with it so far! 6x6 prints look so rad!
In the Vans video, you shot photos in your backyard ramp. With such a short time limit for the project that must've been pretty handy, especially during a pandemic. Have you had the chance to get out and shoot much during COVID? Over here in the UK, there are limits to how far you can travel.
We actually skated Shiloh Greathouse’s mini ramp in that video, It was so fun! I wish I had one now, but we don’t have the room for it. I helped Andrew Allen build one at his house recently, it’s nice having one around to ride! As far as getting out during the pandemic, it was pretty slow during the first half. I went out a few times but was at home waiting this thing out for the most part. I would go out and shoot landscapes and stuff to keep my creative juices flowing. But I have definitely been busy this second half. Everyone has been itching to skate so its nice to be out in the streets again. I just got back from my first little trip to Arizona for a Red Bull shoot, we spent 2 days in Lake Havasu with a small crew. That was the first time that I went on a trip in a whole year! I know a lot of people seem to be travelling again, I still don’t have the urge to fly anywhere at the moment. But I’m down if I could drive there by myself!!
Do you have any film projects in the pipeline?
I don’t have any film projects at the moment, but I do have little personal things that I’m working on. My great uncle that was a photographer has been bringing me old negatives of his that I have been helping with scanning and archiving. He has so many great unseen photos of my grandpa, my mom and her family growing up in Los Angeles. Amazing stuff. I can’t wait to get to printing some of those for him!