The Photographic Club of the Municipality of Heraklion in Athens was founded in 1988 as a part of an “outreach type” education program. It is named "Faos" from the pre-ancient Greek (Indo-European root) word for “Light”, the most essential parameter of photography. Currently located on the ground floor of the Cultural Centre “Villa Stella”, it consists of the main hall for education and presentation, the library and two darkrooms, one for film development and the other for photography printing.
In the beginning, there were only two enlargers available. The next year, the Club acquired another two enlargers. New students were starting to flow every year in the team and in 1995 the municipality of Heraklion started funding the project, making it reach its peak with 20 working enlargers. The same year the Club organized an exhibition where more than 150 photographers participated, with the title “Let’s Miss a Train”. The photographs were placed in Athens metro stations “prompting” passengers to miss a train in order to take a look at the photographs.
Despite the prevailing of the digital era in photography, the Club stays active until today. At least 60 newcomers enroll each year in order to take the introductive course to black and white analog photography and the basic skills of developing and printing. When the students finish their first year they participate in the annual exhibition of the club and then are considered graduates. Graduates have the right to use the darkrooms for a lifetime. The soul of the Club is its Professor Giannis Galanis who has been teaching there since 1988. Giannis inspires the love for black and white analog photography to his students guiding them both in the technique of developing, printing and the artistic value of their photographs.
Participating in the Club remains free even today, with only a small entrance fee paid by the new students once. Every year in mid-June Faos holds its annual exhibition with works from all of its members' newcomers and elders. There are people exhibiting for more than 20 years in a row.
Having the ability to print photographs in a darkroom was a child’s dream for me. I came to the club as a newcomer in 2016 and still participate in its activities, having met a lot of people who share the same passion for analog photography. I find the magic of analog photography at the moment you put the paper in the developer and the image gradually appears. Time flies slowly in the darkroom, yet hours don’t matter, only seconds…
To see more photos, check out my LomoHome album: The Biggest Darkroom in Greece.
Text and photos by Lomographer Konstantino Kritsalos. Thank you for sharing your experience with the Community!