Photography course

Loveland High School ends film photography course


By Sam Smith

Tin rolls of TMAX 400, the film used in Loveland High School’s Film Photography course, costs $ 60. A pack of 100 Ilford black and white 8 × 10 photo papers costs $ 70. A working film camera will typically cost between $ 30 and $ 150. All of this, and a photographer ends up with just 36 photos of a very unpredictable quality. In contrast, a digital camera can take millions of high-quality photos faster, with greater precision, and immediate feedback. Plus, digital photos are more flexible, cleaner, faster, more convenient, and much cheaper. So why, when so few high schools still have a film photography course, does the school continue to offer a film photography course?

Chemical tanks under development in Photo 1 room at Loveland High School

Photo 1, the film photography course, is the most expensive course Loveland currently offers in terms of supplies – easily fetching $ 250 for the prerequisite. This contrasts with the almost free photo class 2 (digital).

“It’s a big initial investment. I think it’s valuable, but the practicality is starting to disappear, ”explained Loveland photography teacher Jim Barrett.

An enlarger that is too expensive and too broken to repair
Enlarger at Loveland High School too expensive and too broken to fix

The classroom is also expensive to run, with expensive chemicals, hard-to-find bulbs, and expensive maintenance.

“The film is photography, and therefore to teach photography or to be a photographer, it would be logical that the film is involved. An important point that I also try to raise is that the film is an archive and that the digital is not. At the very least, the film is an archive, and it is tangible; real. To be a photographer you have to do photography, and to do photography means to use film. Just like playing the guitar, you should actually be playing the guitar, ”said photographer and actor Jason Lee.

Lee is known for his role as Earl in My Name is Earl, Dave in Alvin and the Chipmunks and co-founder / owner of Stereo Skateboards. Lee has become a popular photographer known for his exceptionally large-format Polaroid camera and instant photography.

Above, one of Lee’s unique Polaroid photographs. Lee kindly offered his opinion and the importance of analog photography to Loveland Magazine through a direct message interview.

“Photography doesn’t have to be made any easier, but it should be difficult, to take good photos. Nothing that is easy to do is worth much to anyone, ”said John Free, renowned professional street photographer, who only shoots black and white analog film – the same type used. in the faded photo 1.

Above is a photo of John Free taken on black and white film similar to the one used in Loveland’s Photo 1 course. Learn more about Free’s passion and work in this video Where on its website. Free graciously offered his opinion to Loveland magazine through an email interview.

“The film and the darkroom have given me great pleasure for fifty years, and I still go out in that messy little room I built in my garage so many years ago. A swivel office chair, with the chemical trays and my enlarger at the height of an old man sitting down allow me many happy hours to work and play with this magical process of creating important images, ”Free continues. Analog photography has qualities that are simply impossible to achieve with digital cameras.

Reception reels in the film photography room
Absorption coils in the film photography room at Loveland High School

“Cinematic photography, I think, is the ‘purest’ way to learn photography. How it works, how it’s supposed to work. How to see the light, how to exhibit. It’s as opposed to a digital camera – you don’t even have to think about it. It does it all for you at the push of a button. With photo 1, you have to think ‘I only have this number of photos, we talked about it in class so I’m going to work on it when I look in the viewfinder’. Each year, however, it becomes less convenient, ”Barrett said.

Reservoir development at Loveland High School

Practicality is what drives the end of Photo 1. Loveland clings to his film photography class. Milford and Kings still have darkroom photographs, but they are among the last.

“My position is probably a bit ‘controversial’, but I’m pretty adamant about the need to use the film. And the more it is used, the more it also contributes to the economy of the film industry, ”explained Lee. But, finally, will film photography disappear?

Pigeon Man in Central Park, grown in the Loveland Room Photo 1
Pigeon Man in Central Park, grown in the Loveland Room Photo 1

“There are still people who make their own films. There are still people who make their own daguerreotypes [one of the most primitive photographic techniques], and they’re amazing. Look at Polaroid, they left, came back and someone bought the factory. There will always be a niche for film photography, ”Barrett said. Loveland will be one of the last schools in the area to lose its film photography program.

Photo teacher Jim Barrett
Loveland High School Photo Teacher Jim Barrett

Barrett says if another facility is offered for photography lessons, the lessons are likely to merge. The new class will contain a small film photo component and will focus on more digital. There may be an advanced photo / multimedia / video course that would merge with the daily school newspaper. While one of Loveland’s most unique classes is soon gone, it will leave a window for a new visual arts class.

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