Community Darkrooms Member Spotlight: Ben Cleeton

Community Darkrooms Member Spotlight

Ben Cleeton – Second Generation Member

Nineteen-year-old Ben Cleeton is a second generation Community Darkrooms member, student at Onondaga Community College, intern at the Syracuse Parks and Recreation Department, and a photographer with an impressive eye for detail, composition, and tonality ranges.

When Ben became interested in photography he was quickly steered to Community Darkrooms by his father, Bill Gandino, who first came through our doors in the 1980s when he was a staff photographer at Syracuse University. Gandino has work in the Light Work Permanent Collection and he taught black-and-white courses for Community Darkrooms from 1982–1990. His best-attended class was a Landscape Photography and Wine Tasting course that was supposed to be a few hours in duration but lasted much longer.

Gandino’s guidance to Community Darkrooms proved valuable for Ben – he has flourished both in the traditional black-and-white darkroom, where he enjoys printing class assignments on his favorite paper, and in the digital lab where he applies the skills he learned in the darkroom to his digital files. “I like to be able to come into Community Darkrooms and immerse myself in my work” Ben explains, “someone is always here to help me with technical questions, and it is reassuring to ask for the opinion of another member when I have aesthetic questions about my work.”

Community Darkrooms has the second round of fall workshops and classes starting next week! Take a look at and sign up for a positive do-it-yourself learning experience.

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