Crop Rows, Photograph
We just finished our first of two weekends of the Sonoma County Open Studio event, ARTrails – overall it was an interesting, rewarding and exhausting time! Above is one of the pieces I sold over the weekend, printed large on canvas. I was happy to see that my new “textured” work was well received.
Of course, in an event like this inevitably you get into some interesting conversations with people. I had a couple of teenagers come by from the local high school art program who were photography students. I asked them if they were still being taught to shoot and develop film and print in the old fashioned darkroom with chemicals – the answer was yes, the instructors felt this was a worthwhile discipline to learn.
I wasn’t surprised but I was disappointed – for the students. Having done lots of printing the “old” way as well as the new, digital way I believe there is no inherent advantage in teaching them to print using antiquated, vastly inferior tools. It would be like going to medical school and learning to perform surgery without anesthetic and modern instruments. What’s the point? No one does it that way anymore and there isn’t anything to be gained from wasting time using outdated techniques.
I believe that the reason things are still done this way in academia is twofold – first, there isn’t money to buy the equipment needed in all cases to use the latest and greatest techniques. Though, I must say, my son’s high school does have an impressive computer lab and it would be easy to add here and there to create a first class digital photo and printing lab.
I suspect the main reason is that the instructors themselves have not adopted the best practices themselves and are more comfortable teaching what they know and have taught for a long time – the old school way, as it were. Many teachers are not comfortable teaching something they themselves are still learning and there is so much new emerging development in the photography world these days it is hard to not be in a continuous student mode yourself.
To teach our new young photographers techniques they will never use in the future does not serve them well. We want to excite and inspire them, not demotivate them with how their parents had to do it.