What is Make It Easy?
Make It Easy is an educational space and traditional photographic facility based in Nottingham. We offer photographers the ability to hone their craft using our beautiful black and white and rare colour darkrooms whilst supporting their work through workshops, 1-2-1’s, mentoring, residency opportunities and socially engaged practice. The space was founded by educator and artist Dan Wheeler along with our sister lab and dear friends Take It Easy Lab in Leeds. Our collective aim is to support photographers practice, build an ever growing and established community and provide our users with alternative education and facilities including our professional film processing lab, which sits at the core of our site.
We also work extensively with other educational establishments such as the University of Nottingham, Nottingham Trent and Confetti College. It is our aim to grow our connections with educational establishments in the midlands and nationally to further enable us to develop socially engaged photographers, artists and communities.
The Make It Easy Team
The History of Make It Easy
Make It Easy lab started in March 2014 under the name “The Photo Parlour” by our founder, artist and educator Dan Wheeler. Initially established as a traditional black and white darkroom, gallery and teaching facility, It enabled us to run independent workshops and begin to make connections with various educators and charities across the midlands. The aim was to use photographic education as a means for social engagement as well as a means of building a community around traditional photography and mental health support.
It was here that Dan started to collaborate and run workshops with renowned photographer and educator John Blakemore. John’s practice and way of teaching has been highly regarded for the 50+ years that he has been working in education, famously running workshops at The Photographers Place and Ducks Pool. Here he worked with the likes of Faye Godwin, Paul Hill, Brian Griffin, Lewis Baltz and Thomas Joshua Cooper. He is also an honorary member of the Royal Photographic Society and has won the Henry Fox Talbot award for photography.
John's methods and approach to photography have had an overwhelming effect on how Dan approaches teaching at Make It Easy. Our aim is to pass this approach on to our members and inspire another generation of photographers.
In Sept 2015 Dan got the opportunity to take on an existing darkroom and film processing lab in Nottingham, previously known as “Photo”. The facility had existed as an award winning commercial film processing lab and darkroom for 20 years prior to us taking on the space and was also a testing house for Agfa photo. The aim was to convert this commercial facility into a provision for learning and collaboration.
The space now consists of a large black and white darkroom, a rare colour darkroom, a professional film processing lab, a teaching and working space and a rare photo-book archive.
Over the last ten years the facility has become renowned for the quality of its independent educational output and rare facilities, with participants travelling nationally and from the European mainland to take part in workshops.
In 2022 Dan teamed up with our friends Take It Easy Lab in Leeds to bring a broader range of services and facilities to the film community in the U.K. They also enabled us to grow our business and gave us support in focussing on our educational output in Nottingham, Leeds and further afield.
Dan has also worked as a lecturer for Nottingham Trent University, De Montfort University, Derby University and Derby college as well as guest lecturer at universities across the country. He is also a practicing artist and has exhibited internationally.
Make It Easy was the base for a large photo festival across the city of Nottingham called Off-Centre Festival. Primarily based at Make It Easy and The New Art Exchange along with 8 other venues, the festival provided free exposure, education and talks for photographic artists, with funding from the EU and National Lottery fund.
We currently run residency programmes with support from Mark Rawlinson; Associate professor in History of Art and Civic lead for the Faculty for the Arts department at the University of Nottingham.These residencies provide free, university level education for members of the public for free. We recognise that social and economic constraints often make it difficult for people to reach their creative potential. The residencies provide contextual and technical education to support individuals in making work within communities. Some of our residency work is currently on display at the City As Lab site in the new UoN Castle Meadow Campus.
We are continually working with individuals and establishments to further support and grow photographic education, socially engaged practice and creativity in the midlands that we can provide a pedestal for and celebrate.