Back to the Future: Film Photography in 2018
My latest adventure in the Studio Art department is Photography 1 and I can already tell that I am going to absolutely love this class. I was obsessed with all things vintage/retro before I started taking photos and taking photographs on a film camera really complements my vibe. Fashion preferences aside, Photo 1 is an incredible exploration of an art at risk of being lost. There is so much to learn in this class!
Photo 1 actually starts with not taking any pictures at all. When you stop to think about it, we are constantly surrounded by images in our daily lives, including advertisements, social media, the internet, books/magazines/newspapers. It's incredibly hard to imagine a world without images when we are so saturated by them. How would students learn about the world without photographs of other cultures and places? We can all "remember" places we have never been and faces we have never met in person because of photographs. To really drive this point home, our first assignment was to refrain from taking any photos at all over 4 entire days. No screenshots, Instagram posts, or Snapchats. This was a much harder assignment than I imagined, and I am now reevaluating my relationship with Snapchat and how frequently I use it without even realizing it.
As the class continues, we will be working in the darkroom much more frequently. If you are a creative who also enjoys chemistry and precision, then the darkroom is the place for you. Mixing chemicals to develop photographs is an exact science, and using a film camera is a lot more work than using a digital one. Eventually you learn to never open photosensitive paper or film in the light and how to manipulate the settings on the camera to fit the environment you are photographing in. We start with developing photograms, which are photos taken with light in the darkroom instead of with a camera, to get more comfortable with the process, and then move on to developing film in the third week of the term. It really seems like magic to place a piece of photo paper into the developer and watch an image appear.
Photography 1 is totally different from any other SART class I have taken so far. Getting used to a new medium is never easy, but I think everyone (including myself) who takes Photo 1 gains an appreciation for film photography as an art form and for the history and science that made it possible. We'll just have to wait and see what images I capture this term!