Something we struggle with a bit in this program is the growing gulf between digital and film photography. While many of our instructors enjoy shooting in both mediums, our students are generally interested in learning how to photograph with a digital SLR, and develop the Photoshop and digital workflow skills they'll need to take their hobby to the next level. I love digital photography, but it's sad to see film and especially darkrooms fall by the wayside.
Darkroom nostalgia is summed up well in Kevin Savetz's essay "Elegy for the Darkroom," on Salon.com. Savetz reminisces about his time in the darkroom in high school, saying "I don't imagine that applying the Burn-In Filter can effect the level of joy that I felt using my hands to shape the light that streamed onto photo paper. For that reason alone, paper-and-chemical photography will never really die. Not because some curmudgeon refuses to give up his Bessler enlarger and his Underwood typewriter, but because there is art in the process of creating art. In hand-burning an underexposed corner, in crooning sappy songs while you work, in gliding through the pale yellow light. There's no Photoshop filter for that."
Happily, there are still darkrooms around, and we are able to offer classes where students shoot film and develop their work by hand. The darkroom that we use is Translight Photography Center. For the staff and owner, it's a labor of love, and we're glad they're around to open peoples' eyes to the beauty and reward of darkroom printing. Below are a few images created by the manager, Christine Caldwell (on film, of course).
Elegy for the Darkroom (Kevin Savetz on Salon.com)
Translight Photography Center