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View Full Version : Importance of traditional/film photography in our Colleges and Universities



ShannonG
14-Dec-2015, 16:15
So here is a big subject..I have been on (for several years now) the advisory comity for the professional photography program of Hawkeye Comm. College here in Iowa.back in the day we were #3 on the list of best photographic schools in the country. not there anymore but still in the top 10.When i graduated 25 years ago there was a small computer lab,a few digatol cameras a very extensive lab and collection of film cameras to check out (like 150 hasselblads,lights and large format cameras 4X5 to 16X20)The darkroom labs were filled up all semesters with a 3 year waiting list to get into the program.Ive been lecturing and substitute teaching a bit at the school lately. Sad to see that the darkrooms are only available for 1 semester but the didgatol labs are filled with zombies staring at a monitor.No one talking to each other or collaborating.the hallways are ,,just that just a hallway ,,instead of a place to talk about your photography while your print is in the wash.
The darkrooms are being used less and less,but still alive,,(barely).Its my personal mission on the advisory comity to keep these labs rollin and even offer them more than we do now. As a working commercial photographer i very much understand the importance of the use of all media, but i do know that traditional work is beneficial to this "new"industry. one must know ware we came from in order to know ware we wanna go......just wandering your thoughts on this subject.

Jac@stafford.net
14-Dec-2015, 16:31
The darkrooms are being used less and less,but still alive,,(barely).Its my personal mission on the advisory comity to keep these labs rollin

Good luck to you. Been there. Lost. I will not go on about what a shame it is, but I will point to one observation between the darkroom students and the digital mavens. We noticed a profound degeneration of wet print quality, and what came about was, "Why should we spend so much more time making a print than the digital students do?"

FWIW!

Corran
14-Dec-2015, 17:12
Traditional film/wet photography is still very much alive here at the school I work at. The digital stuff is also booming though, but by far the most talented and engaging students are focusing on traditional mediums. The darkroom here is slam full all year long, even sometimes in the summer.

On the flip side, I recently visited a school on the current Top 20 list and was told they've eliminated all of their traditional color classes and liquidated that equipment. Perhaps not surprising, but as a top-flight school I expected them to have that. Looking through their student work, there was a huge majority of digital printing, including hybrid processes. Alt processes/printing were a big thing there though (but one photo professor specialized in it, so not terribly surprising).

Iluvmyviewcam
14-Dec-2015, 18:51
Well, to LF guys the darkroom is important. But to the majority of photogs film is too archaic, too much trouble and too slow to interest them. If schools have student interest in film, then keep teaching it / or make it mandatory. Once it becomes a big loser for the schools then they will phase it out unless they wish to subsidize the film gods.

I'd like to still be using film, but too much hassle, too much $. But big killer is no time for it. I have almost 3 years of digital I have not looked through. If I have no time to look through my digital, how could I develop it and wet print it as well?

Even with my backlog, I still produce prolifically with what I do get chance to edit. I could never do what I do with digital if I used film.

nsfw

https://danielteolijr.wordpress.com/2015/06/19/biography-of-daniel-d-teoli-jr/

Keith Fleming
14-Dec-2015, 20:21
I don't think film photography has much of a future in photography departments that prepare students for careers in commercial photography. The commercial world requires and demands digital outputs.

However, I have read/heard rumors of some colleges and universities re-establishing their wet darkrooms and teaching film-based photography. These schools, though, had film photography as part of their art departments--film photography has become "art." I recommend the OP check to see if her school's art department has or could create interest in film photography as art. As one poster above suggested, perhaps the best first step is alternative photography processes.

Keith

StoneNYC
14-Dec-2015, 21:35
So here is a big subject..I have been on (for several years now) the advisory comity for the professional photography program of Hawkeye Comm. College here in Iowa.back in the day we were #3 on the list of best photographic schools in the country. not there anymore but still in the top 10.When i graduated 25 years ago there was a small computer lab,a few digatol cameras a very extensive lab and collection of film cameras to check out (like 150 hasselblads,lights and large format cameras 4X5 to 16X20)The darkroom labs were filled up all semesters with a 3 year waiting list to get into the program.Ive been lecturing and substitute teaching a bit at the school lately. Sad to see that the darkrooms are only available for 1 semester but the didgatol labs are filled with zombies staring at a monitor.No one talking to each other or collaborating.the hallways are ,,just that just a hallway ,,instead of a place to talk about your photography while your print is in the wash.
The darkrooms are being used less and less,but still alive,,(barely).Its my personal mission on the advisory comity to keep these labs rollin and even offer them more than we do now. As a working commercial photographer i very much understand the importance of the use of all media, but i do know that traditional work is beneficial to this "new"industry. one must know ware we came from in order to know ware we wanna go......just wandering your thoughts on this subject.

This is the reason I've gone back to school. I decided that a shift is coming, and schools that are doing commercial only work will focus more and more on digital, BUT schools that are fine art schools and want to focus on the fine arts will start to include traditional photography to their repertoire and will need teachers well versed in traditional techniques.

With many of the older professors beginning to or already in retirement, I see a need for new younger teachers able to cary on the trade, so in 5.5 years I'll have a Masters in Photography, and perhaps then you'll consider hiring me ;)

Kirk Gittings
14-Dec-2015, 22:19
We have full silver darkrooms and digital labs plus an Alt process lab. Students seamlessly go back and forth. Great students using traditional and or digital.

Jim Jones
15-Dec-2015, 08:56
. . . I'd like to still be using film, but too much hassle, too much $. But big killer is no time for it. I have almost 3 years of digital I have not looked through. If I have no time to look through my digital, how could I develop it and wet print it as well? . . .[/url]

That backlog is indeed a problem with digital photography. Back in the dark days of wet plates, photographers labored over each capture and really tried to do it right. Today's Facebook mentality favors shooting prodigiously, inflicting the results upon the whole World, and repeat, repeat, repeat. Digital is convenient while film is contemplative, The quality of my photography has plummeted since using a digital camera much of the time, but I do have a terabyte of mediocre images on the computer. Whoopee!

Drew Wiley
15-Dec-2015, 11:14
My perspective is a bit different. Gosh knows how many thousands of people move to this area to get a foot in the tech industry. That includes lot of potential candidates for digital imaging careers, both traditional commercial & advertising, and digital cinema applications. The local schools are cranking out hundreds more each year. All that amounts to a helluva lot of competition for anyone starting out at the bottom of the hiring food chain. And every twenty something with a two
hundred dollar digital camera these days thinks they're a web designer or wedding photographer. Yet what people at the top of the hiring chain is personal flexibility, because they know things are constantly changing. As an example, I had two assistants each trying to break into the field. One of them did only digital
animation, produced two full-length films, then finally landed a job six year after moving to the area - designing spam headers for another six years! Not exactly a California dream job; but when you're a small fish in a very big pond, that's how the system works. The other assistant acquired decent though not remarkable PS skills, but could also draw and illustrate proficiently with pencil or colored pigment, and could do interesting old-school black and white darkroom
printing - in other words, versatile. That landed him a double six-figure advertising job in just two years. So I always tell these young folks not to put all their
eggs in one basket. A diverse portfolio of skills is more important.

Randy Moe
15-Dec-2015, 11:20
+1 and know basic science, math and computer skills. Toss in Latin or a 'usable' language. Latin for 2 years in 6&7th grade helped me understand my native English.

bob carnie
15-Dec-2015, 11:32
I think a lot has to do with how good is the schools program and length,

Right now most of the 2 year programs in photo schools would be wasting their time and resources having film , traditional setups.

I can see dedicated programs like where Kirk teaches having them as a necessary part of the program.

ShannonG
15-Dec-2015, 19:33
Thanks for the replies,this is a fun thread...sorry for my spelling and /or grammar skills. I'm 46 years old and a life long photographer with degrees and experience in both fine art and photography...spelling is one thing that I'm not good at,but I'm good at other things that matter...like photographic vision, thanks for looking thru my misspelled words.

koh303
15-Dec-2015, 19:56
These schools, though, had film photography as part of their art departments--film photography has become "art."
Are you suggesting that photography is not art?


BUT schools that are fine art schools and want to focus on the fine arts will start to include traditional photography to their repertoire and will need teachers well versed in traditional techniques.
Sorry, but thats just not the case. Most top of the line fine art MFA's in the US would toss their wetlabs out the nearest window if they could. The last thing they care about when hiring is if you know anything about film (or anything else for that matter), and, what/who is hiring, and how much are they paying...? The answer is no one/none/nothing or not much.

With all that said, RISD as recently at 2 years ago trashed their entire darkrook system, in favor of a BRAND NEW, yet 70% smaller setting, with all new construction, equipment etc. It is for BW only, as most other schools have tossed color paper processors due to lack of use. They should have a new imacon for every colenta tossed, but sadly there isent.

And really, what they are trying to tell you as a student is "learn how to do this thing, not that thing" - it does not matter how your image starts, film or digital, it will end up digital regardless. There is no time or room for BW prints in MFA (save for a very few nut cases) because no one has time to talk about that amidst all the "is it too high/too big/too visceral/too big a border and aimless name dropping references nonesense discussions about "art" that are common in art schools.

On the complete other hand, any short term non degree oriented technical school that bothers with film is wasting their time just like bob said. Its just part of natural course of things. Just likek fischli and weiss's the way thing go.

Corran
15-Dec-2015, 20:16
There is no time or room for BW prints in MFA

:rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:

Have all my eye rolls sir.

Randy Moe
15-Dec-2015, 20:40
I find it strange that a film industry professional denigrates the very cow that supplies the milk.

The amount of bitterness shown is depressing to read. MFA may not be about process, but if you want to make images and gain an MFA, do it. Sail your own ship and do not listen to jaded negative people.

Love life and live it now! :)

Wayne
15-Dec-2015, 20:48
College, collage...I think traditional photography looks great in both!



Thanks for the replies,this is a fun thread...sorry for my spelling and /or grammar skills. I'm 46 years old and a life long photographer with degrees and experience in both fine art and photography...spelling is one thing that I'm not good at,but I'm good at other things that matter...like photographic vision, thanks for looking thru my misspelled words.

Corran
15-Dec-2015, 21:28
You're right Randy. I get too bogged down in negativity. I hate negativity.

This topic is especially close to my heart.

I know of a very nice community college a few hours away that doesn't even have a 4-year art degree, yet they have a full color darkroom and teach that every fall. It requires a dedicated faculty who can excite students.

John Layton
16-Dec-2015, 07:17
After having spent many years teaching in a variety of colleges and settings...I can only conclude, in consideration of establishing a good FOUNDATION, that any photography degree curriculum worth its salt... should list analogue-only classes, at least up to an intermediate level, as a REQUIRED part of such curricula. Why? Simply this...after observing, countless thousands of times over the years, the degree of "connectedness to process" achieved in the presence of visible, palpable light streaming from the lens of an enlarger onto photographic paper - I've achieved the realization that such an experience (and the acquisition of foundational knowledge from the same) is irreplaceable by any other means, and will defend my "position" regarding the necessity of this experience until my last breath!

Andrew O'Neill
16-Dec-2015, 12:46
In my school district, it's the old guard who are keeping film photography courses alive. As soon as we have all retired (I've got 10 more years), kiss it good bye. We had a young teacher come in last year to teach media arts. He didn't teach them the film unit as is required. All digital. I was livid because whenever I brought it up with him, "oh ya ya, we'll do it , we'll do it". Our numbers went way down this year because of this.

Administrators are always looking for ways to shut us down. It's all about the money now, not the kids.

Michael E
16-Dec-2015, 18:18
"Film photography" is neither an art nor a medium. Photography is only very peripherally about the piece of light sensitive material. You just choose the tool that works best for you. No need to devide what is just a big variety of opportunities.

Having said that, the art academy that I work for offers wet labs for color and b/w (a lot smaller than they used to be), computers, scanners, lightjet printers, inkjet printers, etc. We still have LF cameras from 4x5" to 8x10", and also a lot of digital equipment, mostly DSLRs. We get new photography students who have never owned a digital camera and photography students who have never exposed a piece of film. Digital and film are taught in the same class by pretty young instructors. Film photography and wet darkroom are only a fraction of what they used to be, but they are still going strong. Most importantly, there is no ideological battle going on...

vinny
16-Dec-2015, 19:37
Would someone please edit the thread title?

Oren Grad
16-Dec-2015, 20:22
Done!

David Karp
16-Dec-2015, 23:22
I don't teach in the department, but my community college built a new fine arts building and it includes both wet darkroom and digital facilities. The traditional black and white photo classes are always full. They teach a studio course that includes medium format and view cameras. There is a full digital program as well. Students regularly transfer to schools like Art Center and are successful in their studies.

A_Tabor
17-Dec-2015, 12:55
I hold a science degree, not an arts degree, but I still spent a lot of time in a computer lab staring into screens working on a wide range of things back in my university days, and personally I take offence to the term 'zombie'... We are social-life-impaired...

But on a more serious note I kind of find it mildly insulting that one would suggest students sitting silently in a computer lab aren't talking or collaborating. I spent a lot of time sitting at a computer without saying a word, and I happen to be doing so right now, but that doesn't mean I'm not communicating with others. I have worked with people and shared ideas on design, programming, art, and a whole host of other topics without having spoken a word to anyone involved. The largest and most important systems I've worked on in my career in software development were with teams made up mostly of members who I never met face to face or even spoke to. However we still worked on the same project together, we still communicated, and we still helped each other work through problems and come up with new solutions to problems.


Things change, and different campuses will develop different cultures, and even different parts of the same campus can host a slightly different localized culture. The lab space I spent most of my time in at university was very introvert centred, and overly talkative and extroverted types were gradually shunned and pushed out of the space as they went to find other labs to work in. (Far less cool and productive spaces I'm sure.) But just because a group works differently than another isn't an indication that they're any less productive or creative than another group, and you have to rely on what they're actually producing to judge such things.

Andrew O'Neill
17-Dec-2015, 14:57
The lab space I spent most of my time in at university was very introvert centred, and overly talkative and extroverted types were gradually shunned and pushed out of the space as they went to find other labs to work in. (Far less cool and productive spaces I'm sure.)

Bullies.;)