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

Marvin's picture

I just took a class from NYIP and they did a lot of film, but I shoot only digital, no regreat.

Sally's picture

Instant feedback with digital keeps me motivated.I have done a lot more exploring of the possibilities with digital in four years than I did with 20 years of film.

Adam W.  LeCroy's picture

That is really messed up that they are dropping darkroom and film classes, it is the basis of photography without it photography really isnt anything. Digital is a form of photography as I am a digital photographer, but film is an art! There are things on film that you really cant do in digital no matter how great the camara is, while there are things you can do digitally that you cant do with film, the 2 balances each other!

William Kegley's picture

I wish Ansel Adams was hee to answer this question. Light, film, development. Film says it all. I'm an amature but I could go on and on. Digital isn't far enough along to cancel out film.

dforzano's picture


Fred Mayer's picture

In order to get a good basic knowledge of light and how it ultimately affects the final image learning to shoot with film is essential.

Richard Kreis's picture

Technology has driven art since the days when we first scratched images on cave walls with the burnt ends of twigs. Embracing a new technology does not mean we must abondon earlier technologies. The emotional appeal of an image should not be confused with fascination of the technology used to produce it. The essence of art and the physics of light form the foundation of photography, irrespective of the technology employed. The option I would have voted for was not an option in your survey. We should teach the art using current technology, and include legasy technologies as part of a more complete appreciation of the photographic palette.

Fred Huff's picture

I started in this hobby long before the introduction of digital, and I still prefer film. However, I find that digital does offer me certain advantages. I can take a few photos without worrying about finishing up a 24 or 36 exposure roll. I can download images from a memory card and make acceptable prints in short order. Digital would offer these and other advantages to colleges and schools. However, I doubt that top flight photography schools such as the Brooks Institute will dropping darkroom classes anytime soon (or at least their website has no such hints).

Peggy D.  Coleman's picture

Photography has a long history. Schools are doing a great disservice by NOT teaching about film and darkroom. I am currently taking some classes at the University of South Alabama (special courses) and because digital is booming, I finally was able to get into the courses for darkroom. There's a handful of people who still do their processing of film (black and white) by hand and only one real hand processing lab here in town that I use. I think I appreciate film and the darkroom more because of digital, I'm afraid it will make it obsolete.

Ed Lyng's picture

Digital is so different from film that there is little correlation left between the two. Need more time on the post processing of the images with products like Photoshop and the large selection of other image manipulation / refinement products on the market.

Eric Somers's picture

Photography is about image making and image thinking, not about a specific technology. Many schools teach video courses without requiring students to first work with motion picture film. Audio schools teach digital recording without requiring students to splice analog tape or, to go back further, cut acetate disks. If students want to learn darkroom processes, those courses could still be available, but there is no need to require "wet" photography before learning digital or even to require a student ever take darkroom courses. The emphasis should be on great images by any process a students wishes to use.

A.  B.  Metz's picture

With todays digital technology and updating why would you even consider waisting your valuable time with film/darkroom. It's like learning to make color prints with the now extinct dye transfer method.

Benny D.'s picture

Concepts and terminology used in photography evolved with the use of film cameras. It's essential knowledge that creates deoth in education - aren't we educators obligated to providing a well-rounded education. Film and darkroom experience are no less essential.

John's picture

Digital will continue to be the photographers leading method but there still is room for film to be taught.

John Williams's picture

Shooting film, no doubt, takes digital manipulation out of the loop. What you see is what you shot. I learned the importance of getting it right the first time in the camera because film is straight forward.

Carrie's picture

I think that taking away film would be like not teaching History in High School anymore. Because it has already passed, its useless? Doesn't make sense to take away learing that foundation, then why film?

Dave Aupperlee's picture

My son just took a photo course in college. We dusted off a manual SLR and lenses and came to appreciate them again. Until you do darkroom work, you have no idea or appreciation for the wonders of digital photography.

Robert Mitilieri's picture

It has been very difficult to get to the point to make the selection I did above. I spent my high school and college years earning my tuition in a darkroom. Instead of learning about film and darkroom work, schools should require courses in digital developing and editing. How many schools still require engineering students to learn how to use a slide-rule? Oh yeah, I did that too!

John Skelson's picture

I teach both film and digital, and find that students with traditional(film-DR) get much more from digital, as they know what to expect in a good photograph. Most who start with digital are looking for the instant results and have no idea as to how they can better there photography.

Jay T.  Litt's picture

If you learn film first you don't have to review each shot with digital as those without film background seem to do. You know whether you got the shot.

Joe Dlhopolsky's picture

For a top line photographic school with a big budget, teach a darkroom course on the history of film. Make it an elective. A course on Photoshop would be more relevant today than darkroom techniques.

Mike Steen's picture

I started doing photo work in 1975 with a college biophotography course. I worked in newspaper for 20 years and learned photography, both picture and print from the ground with using an old Simple Simon for printing negatives and 35 & 2 1/4 x2 1/4. One of the things that has helped me in all areas was the knowledge of the photo process from the beginning. There is nothing that can compare to knowing the basics. No matte how far photography technology goes, there is still no substitute for the basic knowledge of light and dark and how to control emulsions and produce a good print.

Gary Ditson's picture

Understanding black and white and making it come alive in the darkrook is the best way to learn.

Kelly's picture

The photographers that I have met who have not had any training with film seem to lack an understanding of exposure and why certain elelments are important. They seem to think that fixing everything in photoshop instead of getting it right in camera is acceptable. I learned with film and darkroom training and I feel it was an invaluable part of my education. Last summer I taught a group of Jr. High students how to build a pinhole camera and expose the "film" in a very basic darkroom. Althouhg this was very foreign to them, I feel that this planted a seed for a true appretiation of photography as an art, not just a hobby. They all loved the experience!

Donald P.'s picture

There is much to be learned about digital. I am 71 years old, and there is much that I cannot do in digital because I don't know enough about computers. The sooner you start the better off you will be.

Nicole Redmond's picture

Trust me, I am all about digital these days, but I feel learning film photography is too important to be left out. We need to be more than "point and shoot" or "auto" people.

Shayne Weltmer's picture

Film techniques are a great start! It gives you the fundimentals of processing. Plus it makes you slow down and pay attention to your work.

A.  J.  Daitch's picture

The media may be different, but the basics of photography remain the same. An understanding of film/darkroom techniques would be helpful, but is not necessary. It should be offered as an elective.

Barb's picture

I believe my darkroom education has helped tremendously in understanding the digital media. I don't think any photographer should pass up such an opportunity.

Jim Lawrence's picture

Do the colleges and photo schools still teach students about the importance of light in their photography? Or do they simply dismiss light as a trivial inconvenience that their electronic camera will compensate for? I believe there should be at least some instruction in the use and processing of film, if for no other reason than to elicit a true appreciation for the differences between film and digital. In fact, I believe that some instruction in the use of a manual SLR camera, and how to take a properly exposed shot without all the electronic help, would also be of value. The more you know about what it takes to "get it right", the better you will be as a photographer - and the less time you'll have to spend sitting in front of a computer to manipulate poorly shot images to get an acceptable one.