Photography class completes long transition


Over the past couple years Photography class has undergone distinct changes in the way students are instructed to create their works of art. This is the first year where the course has fully transitioned.
Before the course adjustment, students starting with Photography One would experience a full year working with black and white photography with the darkroom. The succeeding year students would enter Photography Two, where their black and white photography skills as well as color film would be developed. Student artists entering Photography Three and AP would delve into the world of digital photography.
Now instead of learning how to correctly shoot with digital cameras as a final stop, digital photography has become the introductory class. Students get to experience the best of both worlds in Advanced Studio Photo because one semester is dedicated to black and white darkroom and the second is digital. Finally, students can work their way up to AP 2D Design. Throughout the year students are able to work toward creating a portfolio to submit for an AP score.
The decision to make this change was made by the school’s photo teacher Stephanie Labbe. The transformation was not grounded in the shifting popularity in shooting with digital cameras, but rather the ability for students to be well rounded photographers who can reach their fullest artistic potential with their experience in digital and black and white. “I felt learning the ins and outs of the camera, and then also learning how to be successful in the darkroom was a lot to put together for students,” Labbe said.
Junior Lilly Greenberg began taking photo as a freshman prior to the adjustment and is now in AP 2 Design. She plans to take it again next year. Greenberg recognizes both negative and positive effects. “Starting off with darkroom, it teaches you the fundamentals of photography [like] setting your aperture and shutter speed,” Greenberg said.
She believes photographers tend to take snapshots rather than creating fine art when they depend on using a digital camera’s automatic setting. However, people may feel more inclined to immerse themselves in the art of photography if they have the option to begin with an “easier” and cheaper option like the current introductory course.
There are lessons to take from both genres of photography. Shooting in black and white provides benefits and challenges for an artist in ways that contrast with shooting digitally. With a limited amount of exposure available per film roll, the need to make each photo successful is established. On the other hand, shooting with a memory card that has the capacity to store hundreds of photos allow artists to make mistakes without the worry of waste. Additionally, one is able to view a shot immediately after taking it with digital cameras.
With this new pathway, students can walk into the darkroom with confidence in the camera techniques they’ve come to adopt in the preceding years. Students taking all four years of photo will leave high school being able to make their artistic visions come to fruition both in and out of the darkroom.