W. Eugene Smith’s Darkroom Sink


Sam Stephenson, the author of a book on W. Eugene Smith and of this article that was published on the Literary Hub website, was sold the entire contents of W. Eugene Smith‘s darkroom by his son, Patrick, the little boy in Smith’s iconic image “A Walk to Paradise Garden” (below) in 2006, on the condition that he could buy it back from Stephenson at the same price if necessary. So with the addition of a glass top it becomes a fully functional writing desk yet it’s able to return to its original state in a mere matter of minutes.

After 20 years of research—24 cross-country visits to Smith’s archive, and more than 500 interviews in 26 states and Japan—I finish writing my book about Gene Smith in Durham, North Carolina, standing at my bar-high desk made from his eight-foot stainless-steel darkroom sink, the same sink he installed in his Sixth Avenue loft in the late 1950s. Behind my desk sits his custom-made heart-of-pine light board that he used to inspect negatives.


“The Walk to Paradise Garden” —  W. Eugene Smith, 1946