The Makers: SixSeven
It may not always be open to the public but Levels 1-4 is a bustle of activity, collaboration, making and creating. 'The Makers' is an exclusive peek behind the scenes to meet the people that make Peckham Levels and to take a look inside their units. We sat down with Dan of The Bright Rooms to talk about their journey and the introduction of SixSeven.
What do you like about analogue photography?
Regardless of whether you're a digital or analogue photographer, if you know the basics of analogue it will make you a better photographer. That's what I believe. That taps into why I like the education side of what we do. Working with kids is great, getting them to document their environment can help intergenerational connections. They're taking pictures of that person, they're asking them questions and starting dialogue. Also the process - making stuff with your hands, you don't look at a screen all day. It's a beautiful way of making images and that's why we say this place is not specifically for photographers. I love it when graphic designers and artists come here.
Why did you decide to open SixSeven?
I noticed that I used to go to a lab, chat with those guys, pick up your film, drop your film off, pick it up, then go to the darkroom to develop and print. As soon as digital developed basically everyone disappeared into their bedrooms and their laptops. No one was really talking anymore. The communication side of things is super important for me because you don't really know how good your work is until you put it in front of other people.
Has it fulfilled that need you were looking for?
Oh absolutely and more. I have more engagement with people here on a daily basis than I used to have in a month. And the variety of people, especially at the Levels - as everyone's in a creative practice there's so much you have in common even though your practices are different. There's a kind of glue that binds us all together.
Do you have any tips for someone starting their own business or studio?
First of all, you've got to love it, otherwise you won't get through. Second, before you do anything, take your time and speak to as many people as possible, gather as much information as possible and just put the whole concept through a really tough analytical process.
What are your plans for the future of Bright Rooms?
We’re launching a scholarship program for young female photographers to provide them with the use of art facilities, mentoring, placements and materials. I've got a panel of four women from different parts of the industry, the financial side, the making side, the agency side and editorial side. It will give them a wider understanding of the industry, a space to create portfolio work and act as a launch pad for their future careers. That's what I'm working towards.
This Summer we're also taking Bright Rooms to Mardin (Turkey) to do a project with the kids there. We're working on a collaborative course with Lomography and we're working with a London-based Auction house. They have a box of negatives from a 1940's photographer that has never been printed before. I love collaborating with other people and I just want to build more partnerships.
Follow the journey of Bright Rooms and SixSeven across their Instagram.
Words and Photography by Ash Chalk.