Please comment briefly on how you think photography is best taught.

Please comment briefly on how you think photography is best taught.
Learning via film and darkroom work is an essential part of a photographic education, and appreciation.
33% (84 votes)
Why waste time on film? Digital is the future and that's what should be taught.
29% (74 votes)
Film and darkroom work is a great foundation for learning about digital, so it should be the first thing taught, followed by dig
38% (96 votes)
Total votes: 254

Marcella M.  Mirande's picture

Film will never go out of style although digital is used more now. Some of us still use film occasionally and I think it is beneficial to know about both and the darkroom. It gives you a greater perspective of your occupation.

Arlan C.'s picture

I see in many photography classes a confusion about recording an image and the image itself. Photograhy has not changed. It is still and should always be about seeing, recording and presenting an image. Courses have migrated so far towards the recording technology and have lost focus on the image. Let's separate a good understanding of light, the mechanics of optics and lenses, shutter and iris control, depth of field, perspective control, and other basics of image development from what happens at the focal plane. For those who want to uderstand the technical aspects of light and image, the discussion should be avaliable in the classroom regardless of the recording medium. Film and darkroom to me is just another method of capturing and displaying an image. For those who what to learn about film and darkroom, let them be allowed to learn it. Film and processing should be presented as an alternative where desired.

Ruth Sprague's picture

Learning about film and darkroom techniques as part of photo history is essential. However, to concentrate on it as if it is relevant for today is a little lopsided - the focus should be on what future photographers will be working with, and most will be in digital. Understanding the differences between film and digital is also very good, so students have a sense of how photography developed and why digital works the way it does...

Susannah Kramer's picture

As a Photoshop teacher I find that the people who have done darkroom work have a much easier time learning to use Photoshop than those who have not.

Roger G.  Robertson's picture

My personal exposure to photography (I am an amuture) started with the use and learning the principles of film. Due to the experance gained with film usage, I find myself having less problems with dealing and adjusting to conditions with digital photography. By understanding the origan of our digital settings I can recognize where the error is while capturing images as well as what is required to correct questionable images during processing. Learning film and the process there are part of learning photography as a whole, it also enlightens the student to situations that certain film media may be prefered over the use of a digital image, as film results in different cature than my digital images can obtain.

Dennis Dwyer's picture

It's unfortunate that technology usually always forces out the old ways but I think to know the roots of your art and craft are essential to a greater understanding. I think to be a well rounded photographer (whether digital or film) you need to at least understand a little about the one you don't shoot.

Joe Teodorczyk's picture

While I enjoy digital picture taking, I at times miss using my film cameras, I've taken quite a few courses at college and I learned alot about lighting situations, depth of field, portraits, film processing and chemical use. Yes, it's easy to do digital, but film photography can be very gratifing.

Rita Littfin's picture

I think that a person will learn more about photographing by having the experience with film and what a darkroom can do. Working with film teaches you every thing that the speed of film can do and shutter, aperture can do. I still like film for Black and White.

Dennis Fisher's picture

It's hard for me to say that they should go straight to digital. Spend the time learning PhotoShop and digital workflow techniques instead. Having been a photographer for over 40 years, I know and love film but I'm reminded of making dye transfer prints at Brooks Institute back in early 70's. They might have been the greatest prints but I never made another one after leaving school. Technology just passed them by. Such is the case of film.

Michael Proudfit's picture

Any course, about any subject, should begin with its history and basics. Concerning photography, I believe that a person should learn what digital is actually emulating before exploring the possibilities that digital photography offers.

Thomson's picture

Film and darkroom work is essential as many clients want the permanence of negatives. Negatives can be digitized anytime making film use safe as a backup. Teaching film and darkroom techniques first helps make it easier to apply concepts to digitial photography and the digital darkroom.

Jenn's picture

Basics should be taught first. If we thought this way about everything else we would never know about things such as history. So lets just forget about the past and go on to whats happening now...Not a realistic way of thinking. Film is a part of Photography history. It should be taught along with digital.

Jessica's picture

If you don't know where you've come from how can you know where to go? To have a true appreciation for the photographic arts and history we have to know what it is like to have the physicalness of creating and developing. It is part of what keeps us connected on a human level.

Mike Bauer's picture

As one who took darkroom and photography courses in college, I no longer see the need for it. You are much better off learning basic photography (via digital camera), color correction, profiling, workflow, and so forth.

Witt's picture

Photography is the process of making pictures by means of the action of light. It does not matter which device or process it uses. The same basic princples such as light, appy to both. Film is still relevant today. Hollywood is still producing movies on file!! This would be like teaching Art class using only acrylic paints because oil paints where too difficult to learn and use. The student is not learning Art just a technique in one media.

Hank Higgins's picture

I started with a manual camera and through it learned about light and how to control it. From there to automated film cameras to digital. What I learned with the manual cameras allows me to manipulate light with the digital camera and with the software to edit the results.

Jim Markle's picture

Although I use a film camera to help students understand how a camera works, I find that features on recent digital SLR cameras help modivate students to be more creative.

George Burnstein's picture

The darkroom and a manual camera taught me how to compose rather than grab a great snapshot. Faster isn't always better.

John A.  Dobbs's picture

Sad but true, go with the future. Having taught photography, back in the days of film and black and white, I rejoice in the technology of digital photography and editing.

Stephanie Berns's picture

With digital comes the ability to see the result immediately. That also brings about a great number of people who simply shoot whatever because they can delet the bad. It also robs us of possible photo's that at the moment may not strike our fancy, but upon later inspection may prove great. Film teaches the backbone of photography.

David Gallego's picture

Shooting with film requires more planning, thought, and consideration then shooting digital. When shooting film it is important that the photographer plan his work because there is not an endless supply and there is a cost to each photograph. With digital it is possible to shoot many times the pictures and just discard the junk since there is not a direct cost. This can make a photographer sloppy. If a student does not learn the skills of film and to think out his shots then he is not going to be as appreciative of the creative process. Digital is great for some but film is where it starts.

M.  Rick Richards's picture

Yes having the backgoung in how to process film and print is essential in learning how to "process" digital images. Knowing how to color balance in the lab helps greatly, as well as getting your black and white images to pop. At my college they are continuing with the wet labs, but the department heads say they may be gone by 2010.

Larry Dickerson's picture

It is possible to teach the fundamental techniques used in the darkroom with digital, plus many, many more. There is so much to learn about how to use digital processing correctly, and so little opportunity to use film and a darkroom after graduating, it would be a waste of the student's time to require the teaching of these processes. There are plenty of materials available about darkroom techniques if a student is interested in learning about this as a "directed study" option. But don't require it of students who want to focus on techniques they will actually use.

Dale Hazard's picture

Film and darkroom work IS the foundation for learning photography. In a sense, you have to learn arithmetic before using a calculator. As photographers, we need to know how to manipulate the film, camera, processing and printing in order to achive the final result. Yes, technology is wonderful and once the basics are learned we can then use it to its fullest potential instead of letting a machine do the thinking for us. After all, everyone started out and learned by shooting film, then processed and printing the image. This teaching method needs to continue. With this foundation and knowledge, we can then take everything we've learned about film photography and apply it to digital photography. Once we've learned the basics, there's nowhere else to go but up.

Jeff Kassel's picture

An essential part, but no longer necessarily a main thrust. Students should be exposed to the nuances of film so that they are aware enough to make an imformed decision on whether they want to pursue that direction. Not necessarily a hands-on introduction.

Henry Bradford's picture

It is my personal belief that if anyone is even remotely interested in photography, they should learn by doing REAL photography with REAL photographs. The process of actually developing the real negatives and photographs lets the photographer gain more appreciation for his/her photographs rather than just taking a picture with a digital camera because the object is there and you can see it immediately and have the chance to delete it whenever you want to. Darkroom development is also a better way to put certain effects (such as burning, etc.) into your photos that cannot be matched by any software with which to edit digital photographs. If photography should even be taught at all, it should be taught as REAL honest-to-goodness photography. Digital is more a waste of time if you ask me.

Rick Menzel's picture

Film is out, digital in. It would be ok to learn film in a historical perspective, but digital's future isn't going away and it should be learned and experienced.

Dave Hargus's picture

Darkroom work will soon become a lost art and one that only the purest will hold on to. Digital gives you so many options. Teach the digital application (most are founded in the darkroom). But film and the darkroom will become the mistique to the younger person today.

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