It is unlikely that the estate agent showing Natasha Braithwaite around her potential new home in Buxton expected her to ask to see the cellar as soon as she stepped through the front door.
But for the photographer the underground room was key to her future and therefore the most important one in the house.
When, having clambered down the stone steps, a vast cavern of a cellar opened up in front of her Natasha knew she had found the perfect space for her dream darkroom.
“I knew as soon as I saw it that this house was going to be perfect for us. So long as there was enough room for us to have dogs we were going to be happy,” she said cheerfully.
Natasha and her partner Dave left London to be closer to her family in Derby and were drawn to Buxton as they already had friends there, the artist Sandra Orme and her husband Mike who left the city for the Peak District 15 years ago.
Until she moved here Natasha had been following a career in stage management but says it had become a job she just did, rather than enjoyed, so she wanted a change.
She believed the move north would give her the opportunity to pursue her interest in photography and more especially using an analogue camera and processing her own black and white films.
Natasha has been taking pictures for a few years and used to send the films off to be processed but was never happy with the results.
“Eventually I was persuaded (admittedly a little reluctantly) to go on a course at the London College of Communication to learn darkroom techniques and I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed it. The process was amazing – so exciting and sometimes unpredictable. I was hooked and really enjoyed experimenting,” she explained.
“That’s why when I moved here I was determined to have either a shed or a cellar so I could kit out my own darkroom and take my photography more seriously.
“I find my inspiration in the way the fall of light picks out the tones, textures and contrasts in the landscape and I am fascinated by the way the grain in the film adds a textural dimension to the pictures.”
Natasha works hard at fairs and festivals to promote her work having been given her first chance to exhibit at the Green Man Gallery in Buxton when the gallery itself was in its early days.
Since then she has become a mainstay of the art festival scene and exhibits at as many as she can in the year.
She has just collected her work from the Spring Gathering at The Green Man Gallery and from April 30-May 1 she will be taking part in the Belper Art Trail.
Then for the Derbyshire Open Arts event from May 27-29 she is teaming up with Sandra Orme at her newly built studio and gallery at 26 Rock Bank, Harpur Hill, Buxton.
Natasha became a member of the Peak District Artisans last year and will be at the Great Dome Art Fair in Buxton in July and The Nicholson, in Leek in August.
For details about her work go to http://www.natashabraithwaite.co.uk