In the UK we still have many colleges who maintain wet darkrooms alongside the digital suite. Because of limited finance through successive government cutbacks colleges cannot afford to permanently employ specialist printers to teach and those tutors who are employed are, in some colleges, having to deal with more students. Fortunately for people like me colleges employ us to do occasional master classes in wet printing so I benefit while students lose out by not having full time tutors in the art and craft of making silver prints.
Having said all that I see some excellent work both in ideas and execution in many of the colleges that I visit to teach. Interestingly I sometimes do silver and digital masterclasses back to back and almost always the digital class begins to break up shortly after lunch whereas the darkroom tutorial is met with great enthusiasm by most of the students. Sometimes I have to tell them to go home as I usually have a long drive at the end of the day.
Another thing that has just started to happen in the UK is that Ilford are now committed to helping a umber of colleges in the UK by sponsoring masterclasses in darkroom work.
I don't get it. What on Earth does a (rather screwed-up) darkroom and teaching situation have to do with conceptual photography? There's nothing conceptual about washing processes and not buying film.
What I experienced was "Conceptual Photography". Don't buy any equipment until you have a specific use for it. [continued on]
Conceptual refers to work that is about the artist and the idea rather than the final product - not whatever you're talking about.
I've never been a full-time photo major (yet), but I've taken classes in my university's department and know it fairly well. Students start out with traditional B&W, printing on RC paper in the gang darkroom, with a professor there to help them along with printing. Intermediate and upper students have access to a 24-hour gang darkroom and a dozen or so small individual darkrooms (primarily used for color), they're encouraged to print on FB paper and follow archival steps (though most students cheated a bit on them).
There are also alt. processes, digital imaging and studio/portraiture classes that I have yet to take.
There's very little technical instruction on different developers and films. You pretty much follow the recommended box times using D76 1:1, and the paper developer is Dektol. That works out OK, better to have students concentrating on doing the work rather than futzing around and screwing up their negatives. The problem is when a little more technical inventiveness is needed. My intermediate class had a Holga project to be put on exhibition in one of the galleries - the only problem was that about half the class barely got a usable neg, because they didn't know anything about different films or developing times, and being students were too lazy to start early. I ended up having to handhold many of them through re-shoots, as I had some idea about how to get around the quirks of the Holga.
By and large, I think I prefer the approach that values concept slightly over technical skill. It is a BFA program, and prospective artists are expected to enter the contemporary art world (of which the technical bravado of Ansel Adams isn't much of a selling point). Learn enough to keep getting better technically as the ideas progress.
I am a full time educator and part time professional photographer. Until three years ago, I was primarily self taught. One of my benefits as an educator in the district I work for is that I can take one college course a semester and the district will cover tuition and fees. Well, I figured I might as well get some formal training, some legitimacy, if I am eventually going to do photography full time. I looked to the local community college.
I enrolled in my first course, Photo I, taught by a wonderful lady who is an active photographer. Although very basic for me, it was a very good experience. I lived in the darkroom for four months. I then took two courses with the only full time instructor. She showed us her equipment; a Nikon F-1 and a very old Olympus digital. Both were past their prime, although I understand why a Nikon F-1 would still be a favorite. The thing was, she did not use these cameras! She was not an active photographer.
Then, last semester, I took Commercial Photography. I should have taught the course. In fact, I kinda did. I met with some students several Saturdays at my studio and went over the things that the instructor should have taught. he tried to do a lighting demonstration. He set up three lights, three reflectors, and a diffuser and told us this was the standard setup for photographing one person. What a disaster! It would never work and no one who knew lighting would ever use that setup. Then... are you ready for this?... he took out his Nikon D70 to show us how wonderful the lighting was. he was going to take a few photos to show us. He didn't know how to operate his D70. (BTW, he had a MFA from RIT). Can you believe this?
Next class he was going to do a demonstration on setting up and shooting a 4x5. I don't have to tell you what happened here...
The rest of the story is... I got an e-mail from him last week asking if I would come in and do a LF demonstration for his current class. I did that last night. No problems; just some good instruction. He admitted I was the right person for the job; better than he would have done. Unfortunately, I do not have an MFA.
Anyhow, that's a sampling from the current state of affairs on photography education.
[COLOR=Magenta][FONT=Arial Black]Photography is a reflection of one moment in our lives...[/FONT][/COLOR]
I know nothing of where things are going, but my professor requires that all students first learn in b&w film and perform darkroom work. Then you move to colorslide film. If you pass the first two photo courses then you move to digital. He doesn't teach conceptual photography. If you want to learn that you have to take art courses. I of course have done so, but conceptual photography does not rule my work. It certianly is not done poorly and then passed off as conceptual my collabrative teacher would never allow that. I plan to go on and get my MFA and I know that when I teach my students will be required to learn on film. So that is where the future of photography is headed for me, as a student. However I will not withhold teaching them about the digital medium. I will not let my personal bias influence my teaching ability in so far as to limit the education I will be giving my students. I think that we as photograhers will decide where the future of photography will go. People still paint in acrylics or oils sometimes both. There is no reason two branches of photography couldn't exist. There are plenty who still tintype even though there is film.
Here I am in Rochester, with experience teaching in the local school system and also having done work with some of the RIT staff over the last 30+ years.
I find that today you cannot sell an analog course to either the public or private schools, and an analog course in the colleges is just a minor event rating a few days mention in the classroom in most cases. Only one local college has an analog photo course, and even that is rather abbreviated and watered down.
For those who would argue that it is the EK influence, I guarantee you that it is not. These decisions are being made (against analog) based on perception, not influence.
There will be a generation out there that knows little about the 'real' photography. I'm also interested in the comments here about B&W but the lack of comments about color. On APUG there seems to be a mindset that relegates color to the back seat, and this is just as bad an attitude as the one dividing analog from digital.
BTW, see the thread on glossy FB prints lacking 'snap'. I don't know if the problem is related to any of the solutions offered, but I did learn that ferrotyping a glossy FB print is pretty much a lost art already. Many of the people here didn't seem to know what it was. They expected FB glossy paper to be glossy when dried, not knowing that it requires a ferrotype treatment to achieve full gloss. So, already, as an old timer, I'm seeing many techniques vanish from the repertoire of the photographer.
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I think digital was invented for us to realize the greatness of film
I think that photography schools have to teach students marketable skills. Therefore digital is the way to go since it is the way of the future and virtually every commercial photography business is digital.
Someone training to be a truck driver today does not learn how to drive a mule team.
I also think that analog should be taught as well and that courses should be available for everyone to learn these techniques. But when one goes to school for a degree, they should come out with marketable skills and fortunately or unfortunately digital is where the future is going.
Right now we are on the cusp of the changeover from traditional to digital. In ten years analog may be just a fine art or hobbiests pursuit.
An architectural student should learn how to use a slide rule and make drawings but his focus should be using the computer to learn and make his drawings on.
I think the US Navy has a program where sailors spend a certain amount of time learning to sail on large sailboats.
So my point is, the schools need to make people marketable but teaching the tradition is also an asset.
I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.
I have worked at two major Universities, both tied into photography labs in one way or the other, and the common thread I found was that there will always be about 1 to 3% that "get it", utilize the equipment to fulfill the course work, but then also expand their own horizons in areas that diverge from the "official" course load.
Either they come to learn (i.e., really to teach themselves) or they come demanding to be taught (never happen beyond a shallow understanding).
As for photochemical, last time I checked, the Ohio State University's Art Department still had a strong faculty, with Tony Mendoza and Ardine Nelson to name two, well versed in traditional photochemcial techniques.
I'm not worried; I was before I found APUG, but I am not now...
Last edited by Kino; 03-30-2006 at 09:02 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: Thats MENDOZA -- duh!
My evening course is partially funded by the UK's Learning and Skills Council (we pay about 20% of the real fees) which is common practice in the UK. In order to get that funding it has to show a strong vocational bias so digital and film work are required. However the film side is becoming less prevelant as it is not a commercial/vocational option. I am rhe only one of 15 students still using film (half used film at the start of the course) but one digi die hard is asking me about film because he says I seem to enjoy my photography more !
I dunno, sounds like a rigourous training program to me. As a formar military, you must have been accustomed to discipline, no? - Perhaps the most serious objection I would have, is against the 'don't buy equipment until you have a specific use for it' - I would have failed miserably on that account - lemme count, over 50 cameras....and still trying to figure out what specific use to put them too...
It was back in the late '70 when I finished my first University degree, a multi major one. Graphic Design, Photography, Printing and Publishing. I applied and was accepted to Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA which was the best Art school in the World at the time. I had two degrees when I went there and was a combat veteran of the Vietnam war. What I experienced was "Conceptual Photography". Don't buy any equipment until you have a specific use for it. Don't buy any film until you know what you will shoot with it. Don't go out and shoot until you have a complete idea of what you will be imaging. Don't print until the negative has been inspected and checked off by a lab assistant. Don't wash the print until it has been checked off. Don't just take your print out of the wash, you must take all of the ones there at the same time, you name it you claim it. If someone beats you to it and your print is damaged, too bad start over and next time be there to take the print out first. Don't mount it until the print is approved to be mounted. Take it to class, on time or it's trash. The instructor then flips the board to see if the print pops off. If it does, your screwed. If it doesn't you may get a chance to be graded. This is not a joke either. Check the tuition and take a visit and you will see.
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