'Stranger Things' Fans' Confusion Over What a Photography Darkroom Is Goes Viral

A fan wanted to know why Stranger Things' Jonathan Byers is frequently seen working on his photos in a "red room"

A Stranger Things fan in the dark about the purpose of a darkroom as featured in the series has gone viral thanks to nostalgic fans lamenting their age amid an era of digital cameras.

The outdated technique, used to develop photos, is seen multiple times in the ’80s nostalgia-packed series thanks to character Jonathan Byers, who uses his high school’s darkroom in season 1 and 3.

The room, lit only by a red glow, caught the eye of a viewer unfamiliar with the process, who then took to the online forum StackExchange to ask about the purpose of the “red room” featured in the Netflix show.

“In Stranger Things, we frequently see Jonathan go inside this to ‘refine’ his photos or something. I don’t quite understand what happens here,” the user wrote. “He puts the photo in water, and somehow this makes it more clear? An example is in the first season when he refines Barbara’s photo and sees a little bit of the Demogorgon. Is this an old film technique, and if so, what is it called?”

Stranger Things

The answers in the forum were initially helpful, explaining to the confused fan that before digital cameras were invented, people had to process their photos in chemical baths in rooms devoid of light in order to develop photographic materials, like camera film, that were light-sensitive.

But things took off after the exchange was screenshotted and shared to Twitter with the caption, “*crumbles further into dust,*” implying that the question made the user feel, well, ancient.

Many others felt similarly, and the tweet took off, with plenty of users referencing classic films to explain just how old and out of touch they felt.

“*feels herself aging like she chose the wrong grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade*,” wrote one user, while another fan used a GIF of Matt Damon aging rapidly in Saving Private Ryan to portray his or her feelings.

Others joked about similar technology of a bygone era, including VCRs and landline telephones.

“Dear God, please don’t let them find a VHS tape or landline phone, the kids will think it’s some sort of witchcraft!” one wrote.

Despite the reminder that time keeps on ticking, others tried to see the bright side.

“I think it’s actually pretty cool that we get to be the youngest people who experienced the analog –> digital transition,” one wrote. “Pretty lucky to exist right at the knee of the exponential curve that is tech.”

Though darkrooms may be on the way out, they’re not totally extinct yet, according to a 2017 New York Times article that declared demand for analog photography classes was increasing across the city as students became more interested in old-school techniques.

The article did, however, estimate that there were fewer than 10 public schools in the city with operational darkrooms.

Related Articles