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  1. #1
    Matt5791's Avatar
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    Stimulating interest in traditional photography

    We all talk from time to time of the demise of various traditional products, how we can start our own coating lines, make our own paper etc etc.

    However, whilst all this is of interest, to me far and away the most important and easiest thing we can do to keep as many products available to us, and keep interest alive in the art of traditional photography - is to stimulate interest in traditional photography itself.

    For example, Ilford are only too aware of this and spend a great deal of time (and money I guess) promoting traditional photography in colleges.

    I think that we should all ask ourselves, if we are worried about the future, are we making an effort to sell the idea of traditional photography to others?

    If appropiate I always take people into my darkroom and gently (ie - without going on too much and getting boring) tell them about the process. The other day a new acquaintance of mine, a couple of weeks after chatting about photography, announced that he wanted to get hold of a film camera and try processing his own films, and that he had been looking at APUG. He recently bought a Nikon FE - all from an original zero interest in photography.

    If we all keep making an effort in this area this can only be a good thing. If anyone has the time, why not run a workshop or somthing (I know some people already do)

    Traditional photography is a fascinating process and I don't think it takes a hard sell to draw people in - they just need exposure to it (no pun intended!)

  2. #2

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    Matt. I think the real problem is for the person once inspired by seeing what's involved in the darkroom need to either find one available to the public or find a college near enough which runs a B&W photography course. None of the colleges I know of, allow former students use of their darkrooms so he/she has to convert a room in a house.

    Fine if it's a home owner but difficult if it's a young person living at home with parents.

    No such problem for digis of course. All of which may help explain why our game is much more open to middle aged home owners whose kids have left home and have a spare room.

    Things are sadly stacked against turning enthusiasm into action

    pentaxuser

  3. #3
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    This is what I do at my studio by offering classes and workshops. Certainly we offer advanced workshops like Gum over Platinum or Wet plate. But we also offer beginners classes and introduction to B/W or color darkroom class.

    People who take these beginner classes are those who are new to photography or limited experience with taking pictures and developing them. They simply want to be able to make good photographs.

    Most of these classes do not necessarily emphasize on the process whether digital or traditional and technical side of photography so much. We always talk about more about photographs in the context of visual art. So we talk about visual languages, composition, and stuffs like that than actual process especially in beginners class.

    Especially among beginners, I do not think there is too much bias toward traditional method in fact. Though it is still hard to sell these classes.

    Warmly,
    Tsuyoshi
    ----- P R O J E C T B A S H O -----
    Re-introducing Photography to Philadelphia
    Summer '11 Photography Workshops

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by pentaxuser View Post
    Matt. I think the real problem is for the person once inspired by seeing what's involved in the darkroom need to either find one available to the public or find a college near enough which runs a B&W photography course. None of the colleges I know of, allow former students use of their darkrooms so he/she has to convert a room in a house.

    Fine if it's a home owner but difficult if it's a young person living at home with parents.

    No such problem for digis of course. All of which may help explain why our game is much more open to middle aged home owners whose kids have left home and have a spare room.

    Things are sadly stacked against turning enthusiasm into action

    pentaxuser
    What seems reasonable in terms of installing a darkroom may depend on the geographic location of the enthusiast. My guess would be someone living in Australia, Canada, or New Zealand wouldn't have as many issues due to increased land availability compared to a resident of the UK or The Netherlands.

    Tom.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt5791 View Post
    However, whilst all this is of interest, to me far and away the most important and easiest thing we can do to keep as many products available to us, and keep interest alive in the art of traditional photography - is to stimulate interest in traditional photography itself.
    The other day, I was talking to a friend who was considering a new digital camera and asking for recommendations. He was looking at cameras in the $800+ range. I pointed out that:
    1) He could buy a lot of film for $800;
    2) He already had a nice Nikon SLR that worked just fine.
    His reply? "Hmmmm... yeah...!"
    Eddy McDonald
    www.fotoartes.com
    Eschew defenestration!

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt5791 View Post
    If we all keep making an effort in this area this can only be a good thing. If anyone has the time, why not run a workshop or somthing (I know some people already do)
    Well, the future seems a bit nicer and quieter when all the noise is gone. I think the key issue is to be more independent. But how relevant is it to our daily practices? Is it a job or a hobby, or something we do between the two?

    I used to think traditonal photography was something like carpentry that anyone can start learning in a relatively easy setting on weekends, and by continuing to learn and practice more, they can sort of master it in some degree and be able to teach their kids in the future. I see oil painting in the same way: It's a very essential skill to have to enrich one's life. But I guess I must've been dreaming or something when I look at the picture of where we are today.

    I think the best effort we can make is to do as much as we can. Just keep practicing and don't stop. That's all.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Kershaw View Post
    What seems reasonable in terms of installing a darkroom may depend on the geographic location of the enthusiast. My guess would be someone living in Australia, Canada, or New Zealand wouldn't have as many issues due to increased land availability compared to a resident of the UK or The Netherlands.

    Tom.
    My darkroom is on the small island of a very dense population... On top of that, there are many big and small earthquakes all the time, which potentially destroy everything. I don't know what I was thinking when I built mine at home, but I've been okay so far. I do what I do to live a life. Certainly I wouldn't enjoy seeing so many nuclear power plants in this country, which there are, but the darkrooms, why not?

    Seriously, It's a matter of committing to creating some space to do what you ultimately want to do or not.

  8. #8
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    One way to support traditional photography is to support organizations and schools that are keeping the traditions alive.

    Those in the Bay Area of California have a resource in the East Bay (Hayward) called PhotoCentral. They have public darkroom facilities, classes, workshops and gallery space. They will be having a benefit photo auction in the near future...how about donating work to be sold at the auction -- or bidding on photographs? (I am not connected with PhotoCentral, but will be donating a photograph.)

    I run the teaching darkroom for Humboldt State University (California) --we have an art-based wet photo program (as opposed to a program geared towards commercial work). Funds are short -- anyone feel like donating manual 35mm cameras, medium format cameras, or 4x5 cameras for our students to use? I (the photo program actually) have 3 working 35mm cameras, five 4x5 cameras and one Fuji 6x7 that I check out to our students -- not a whole bunch for 150 students every semester.

    Besides that -- keep making photographs, show them and educated your viewers.

    Vaughn

  9. #9
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    After nearly 30 years of shooting film; today, believe it or not, I finally signed up for a darkroom class!

    And therein may lie a lesson. Maybe I'm an extreme case of laggard but getting folk interested (or, in some cases, rekindling former interest) in film photography does not mean firing them up on developing and processing - at least not initially.

    I would be content if the film manufacturers would go back to advertising their products once again in the mainstream media. I know Kodak has a "mixed agenda" but I cannot remember when was the last time I saw an advertisement for Fuji or Ilford in the mass media either (okay, I understand that as a B&W-only producer Ilford has less to gain by mass marketing).

    Current users of film cannot save the format. Even if everyone of us convinced one person to use film - it would barely budge sales volumes.

    At least once a week Nikon, Canon and Sony (the newbie) each have full-page end of section adverts in the New York Times for their DSLRs. These ads cost in the hundreds of thousands of US dollars so you can imagine what kind of sales volume they're seeking.

    At the same time, I really cannot recall having seen evem a small "inside the section" advert for film for at least several years.

  10. #10
    MattKing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by copake_ham View Post
    After nearly 30 years of shooting film; today, believe it or not, I finally signed up for a darkroom class!
    George:

    You see all sorts of posts here on APUG about Medium format and Large format being addictive - wait until you discover the joys of the darkroom!

    I find it to be tremendous fun, and wonderfully satisfying for my mixture of creative and anally retentive character traits. For a number of years I let practical circumstances get in the way of my darkroom interest, and I continually felt deprived.

    IMHO it is also the one best way to improve one's photography.

    Have fun!

    Maybe you will be lucky, and it will turn out that Roger Hicks is the instructor.



    Matt

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