Keeping the craft of traditional photography in the classroom

Discussion in 'Pinhole Photography' started by bebe, May 5, 2014.

  1. bebe

    bebe Member

    Messages:
    10
    Joined:
    May 5, 2014
    Shooter:
    Pinhole
    APU's, I am a new member. I am writing a paper on why the craft of traditional photography should be taught in the art curriculum and kept in our creative classrooms. I am a pinhole photographer, trained in contemporary practices but found my way to medium and large format film working early on. I make my own cameras, obviously, shooting on paper and film and have taught my art pupils this process. Your thoughts on the craft of photography and the importance of it today and why it should be taught would be very much appreciated.:D
     
  2. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Member

    Messages:
    8,044
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2003
    Location:
    Central flor
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I realy se no reason other than nostalgics and appreciating the evolution of photography,which provides a deepr understandingof the craft. we often pay too much attention on the craft and forget the art. I'd rather add Susan Sonntag to the cirriculum as mandatory reading.She understood the purpose of photography and its impact on society like no other.search for Susan Sonntag'on phothagraphy;she had a way with words,demanding a more mature audience.
     
  3. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,899
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2005
    Location:
    Northern Vir
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I taught high school photography, back in the pre-digital days. Their photo interest led a few of my students to an interest in science. At least one (that I know of) went on to major in chemistry, in college, and attributed his interest to the photo course.
     
  4. dorff

    dorff Member

    Messages:
    459
    Joined:
    May 31, 2011
    Location:
    South Africa
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    A sound understanding of photographic history goes hand in hand with an understanding of the technology and processes through which images, both photographic and otherwise, were created. It is about understanding the tools that were available to photographers and artists to express their art, the inherent possibilities and limitations included. It would be incomplete without some first hand experience of silver-based and alternative processes, and the experience thereof will inevitably lead to other avenues for some of the students (of course not all).

    In addition, there is great value in forcing a student to see, and express, within the confines of analogue processes. It takes away the immediacy of digital feedback, and forces a slower, more selective and deliberate process. I have heard from countless dual platform photographers how film encourages the acquisition and maintenance of good habits, that in turn then improve their discipline and results when using digital. Of course this is not universally true, and some digital-only photographers have more discipline than some film photographers.

    At least one reason for encouraging analogue processes is the inherent beauty they are capable of. While it seems perfectly logical that digital processes will eventually surpass all analogue ones in terms of hard numbers, it takes nothing away from what can be done with the analogue processes, and does not diminish their contribution for the past two centuries. At present, it is still significantly expensive and time-consuming to produce results that are on par with analogue prints. What is more, the value of hand-crafted printed images will not diminish in the sea of electronically produced and displayed imagery. Just as hand-woven, hand-knitted, hand-carved, hand-painted etc. retain their value amidst machine driven processes that dominate the mass markets.

    When encouraging analogue photography to be taught, you contribute to the demand for the materials, thereby helping to keep the remaining suppliers afloat, and helping all of us in doing so.
     
  5. bebe

    bebe Member

    Messages:
    10
    Joined:
    May 5, 2014
    Shooter:
    Pinhole
    Thank you Ralph, I prefer Barthes to Sontag - but more writing on photography on the art curriculum would be fantastic.
     
  6. bebe

    bebe Member

    Messages:
    10
    Joined:
    May 5, 2014
    Shooter:
    Pinhole
    Thank you Eddie that's a valuable cross curricular link, I appreciate it.
     
  7. yurisrey

    yurisrey Member

    Messages:
    258
    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2011
    Location:
    New York Met
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It allows for the student to understand the newer forms of image acquisition better. By learning the art and craft of traditional photography the student is exposed to the lexicon used within practitioners of the trade via a hands-on approach.
     
  8. Jaf-Photo

    Jaf-Photo Member

    Messages:
    493
    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2014
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Two reasons:

    (1) Learning the photochemical process will deepen your understanding of light and exposure. This will carry over into other disciplines, and will even improve digital photography skills.

    (2) Analogue photography will encourage you to take more care and put more thought into every image. Thiswill make you reflect more on why you take a particular image and focus on composition, which will carry over into other disciplines.

    I also find that anologue images can have a greater emotional impact, both on the photographer and the viewer.
     
  9. bebe

    bebe Member

    Messages:
    10
    Joined:
    May 5, 2014
    Shooter:
    Pinhole
    Thank you Dorff.
    I agree with much of what you have written about getting pupils to slow down and be more deliberate in the way they see, capture and print their results. There is nothing more beautiful than a hand crafted analogue print - I totally agree with you there. While we live in exciting times with changing technology on a daily basis - I wonder about the effect on society of citizens who only see what's on the surface and don't look for the marks or signs of the maker. I really do think photography courses should start with analogue techniques before moving on to digital imaging. I have heard non specialist photography teachers say if the exam board don't expect to see it - why teach it? Maybe that's the difference between teaching photography and teaching digital imaging?
     
  10. bebe

    bebe Member

    Messages:
    10
    Joined:
    May 5, 2014
    Shooter:
    Pinhole
    Thank you yurisrey, 'the art and craft of photography' and a 'hands on approach' are high on my agenda of teaching practice.
     
  11. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

    Messages:
    6,932
    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2007
    Location:
    Richmond VA.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Welcome to APUG!

    Jeff
     
  12. bebe

    bebe Member

    Messages:
    10
    Joined:
    May 5, 2014
    Shooter:
    Pinhole
    Thank you Jaf-Photo, completely agree with you on all your points made especially the emotional impact of the analogue image.
     
  13. bebe

    bebe Member

    Messages:
    10
    Joined:
    May 5, 2014
    Shooter:
    Pinhole
    Thanks Jeff, nice to be amongst like minded artists where I don't feel like a dinosaur.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    19,651
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    maybe because in this instant age
    it will allow students to realize
    not everything happens instantly ?

    otherwise aside from the whole "gee wiz" factor of chemical photography
    i don't really think it leads to a greater understanding of anything ( image wise, art wise )
    they can't do with modern technology...using chemicals is time consuming and more deliberate and requires commitment

    don't get me wrong, i would rather use the black arts more than anything else
    but i don't really think chemicals are needed to created art, just imagination
    ( which is something people use film and pixels sometimes lack ..... )

    as you know from your own work, making something by hand is always worthwhile ...
    maybe hand made and not instant could be your spin ?

    good luck with your class+curriculum !

    john
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2014
  16. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

    Messages:
    2,126
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2011
    Location:
    NYC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Traditional photography is a wonderful subject that teaches its pupils a combination of skills from a variety of fields that include the arts, sciences, and mathematics, and above all patience. If instructed in a fun and appealing manner, students will learn these basics and carry with them an understanding of how images are made and displayed to them everywhere they look. They will also experience something very few now get to experience, the joy of optical printing in the darkroom. I wish every school did have a darkroom and every student had a chance to try it once to experience it.
     
  17. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

    Messages:
    6,502
    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Maybe traditional photography needs to be transitioned out of the art department and into an applied science department.
     
  18. bebe

    bebe Member

    Messages:
    10
    Joined:
    May 5, 2014
    Shooter:
    Pinhole
    Thanks john,
    I like that point, 'you don't need chemicals to create art, just imagination.' Yes unfortunately if you lack imagination it doesn't matter what process you use...Thanks for the good luck wishes.
     
  19. bebe

    bebe Member

    Messages:
    10
    Joined:
    May 5, 2014
    Shooter:
    Pinhole
    Well said, totally agree Newt-on-Swings, there is nothing like the darkroom experience.
     
  20. bebe

    bebe Member

    Messages:
    10
    Joined:
    May 5, 2014
    Shooter:
    Pinhole
    Are you mad Brian???? Ha ha ha... I wouldn't be able to teach it then, not being a scientist. But yes I see your point and it would keep it in the classroom and make science more fun and exciting.
     
  21. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    16,166
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have yet to experience anything in digital photography that approaches the experience of watching a print develop in a tray.
     
  22. Darkroom317

    Darkroom317 Member

    Messages:
    616
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    Location:
    Rogers, AR
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    It belongs in art with oil painting and lithography.
     
  23. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,012
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2010
    Location:
    Castle Rock,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Chemical photography is another art, separate and distinct from digital. As different as pastels are from oils or watercolor or spray paint on a box car. Why do schools still have jazz bands, another all-but-dead-to-the-public genre of music? Chemical photography, especially with cameras using no electricity, is as challenging to the performer as is jazz interpretation and improvisation. It demands that the serious student explore and understand the fundamentals of light and shadow, chemistry, exposure, optics, composition, even geometry and algebra. Where else could you combine an empty oatmeal box and a soda can to capture infra-red light in the first week of class?
     
  24. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,683
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2012
    Location:
    Netherlands, EU
    Shooter:
    Pinhole
    +1

    But remember there is a subtle difference between wanting to master using photographic printing techniques and to master making photographic art, so be sure what your focus is during the course. They surely both need each other in a symbiotic kind of way, so it is good to have some basic knowledge of both (and its history) either way.
    But in the end both have a different goal in itself. So know what you're striving for.

    Besides that, it has never hurt any photographer to have made a pinhole image, a paper negative, a silver print or even an alt-photo process print (like gum, salt, bromoil, carbon, cyanotype, albumen, etc.) once in his lifetime. It will for sure enrich his vision on (the possibilities in) life and art.

    ( I guess, but what do I know ...)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2014
  25. pen s

    pen s Member

    Messages:
    241
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2011
    Location:
    Olympia, wa.
    Shooter:
    35mm
    It's a fun, hands on activity.
    We spend way too much time on computers already.
     
  26. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

    Messages:
    4,075
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2008
    Location:
    ɹǝpunuʍop.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The development of photography as a skill and later, perhaps by choice, as a profession, depends not so much on technology, bells and whistles and how many megapixels are desired, but a functional foundation in traditional analogue photographic theory and pratice that is built up over time, not overnight. Toay, in the digital world, this is sadly too obviously lacking. Photographers are more than happy to credit their "skill" to the newest camera they have, accompanied usually by a threadbear understanding of traditional photographic techniques and methodology. Around us, people are only too chuffed to tell us that "film is dead", not knowing that those who use it are by and large a highly skilled and experienced number of individuals both in amateur and long-standing professional practice. These people do not gloss over technology, they get down to the princples that make beautiful images as a disciplined craft. All this can be taught and built upon in the middle-years of primary, again in secondary and perhaps, if the interest is strong enough, used as a springboard into tertiary arts education. An arts education that concentrates more on digital technology and methodology may satisfy the market, but skipping over traditional skills in photography is a terrible error of judgement.