You may have seen my announcement on facebook (have you liked me?) or you may have just noticed the last couple of posting days have had two posts per day. The reason is simple. It gives me a chance to actually write stuff down. To share my thoughts about things, or to share tips, or info about some of my cameras (I have the startings of 6 camera posts already, I just need to take some photos for them). Don’t worry, posts like this will be on their own for the day. So, let’s kick things off with this…
Some time ago, a friend posted on their facebook page about people leaving university with degrees in photography having never stepped foot in a darkroom. On it’s own, it split opinion, but going down the comments, one in particular stuck with me.
A woman had been developing film, and making prints with her children because she wanted them to know the basics.
I didn’t comment on it, because I was dumbfounded (though I was pretty clear in my opinions on people leaving uni without darkroom experience).
Before I go on for too long, I’ll just make it clear here that I believe the old way, using film, developing, and printing in a darkroom is important as groundwork for the modern process. It offers a different point of view on photography, and shooting a roll of film occasionally can really help you develop your eye. But for all its benefits, a course should prepare you for the real world of going out and taking photos. It should teach you how to be a photographer NOW, not 50 years ago. Composition, exposure, handling a camera, talking to models, using light, and the nitty gritty bits of actually running a business are the areas I think a course should focus. So people coming out of uni without darkroom experience doesn’t bother me one bit. I would just hope that those people that are interested would find their own way to it.
So, onto the point. Equating developing, and printing in a darkroom with the “basics” of photography, still baffles me. It’s like saying that knowing how to make good old 4 star leaded petrol constitutes one of the basics of driving. Or like saying that in order to know how to watch a film, you have to know how to rig a projector for reels of film. Not only is it outdated (except where people CHOOSE to use a particular method) but it’s just plain silly to say something irrelevant is one of the basics.
Want to know what I think the basics are? Especially where kids are concerned: point your camera at something that you find interesting, press the button, look at the picture on the screen, be excited about how magical it is that you can freeze the moment and have something to remember that moment by!
Darkroom stuff is, if anything, photography 102, not 101.