Tuesday 12th January 2010 by C. Freeman
Photography students enjoy the best of both worlds at Brooke Weston, learning the latest digital techniques, but also being able to use our darkroom to process, develop and enlarge their pictures.
It means that students have the chance to really think about their shots and what they want to achieve, rather than being restricted to the 'point and shoot' technique of digital cameras. Both GCSE and A Level students work in the darkroom and the photography course is proving really popular with an increased intake and excellent results.
Photography teacher Mrs Pippa Smith said: 'Students use the darkroom because it gives them a comprehensive idea of what photography is about. It's the art of composing your image and looking at light. On a film camera you have to set up the shot correctly because, unlike a digital camera you can't go back and delete it if you don't like it.'
Students learn everything from taking the shots, using the light, setting up chemicals, rolling and developing the film then creating contact sheets and learning to enlarge and use different filters. They also work as a team in the darkroom as up to five students are in there at any one time.
Mrs Smith said: 'People who know how to work in the darkroom can really take the classic title of photographer because mastering the darkroom is difficult. Now the students have got that knowledge which gives them insight and an added skill in a very competitive market.'
As well as film and darkroom experience the students also work with digital cameras using computer software to add effects, and their results are all very individual. Their enthusiasm for the subject is evidenced by the fact that two classes opted to take it as a GCSE subject and the first cohort of A Level students will complete their course this year.
Mrs Smith is really pleased with their efforts: 'When the current Year 13s set up their exhibition last summer the examiner said they were spot on which was really good; they did really well, we got a lot of As, Bs and Cs. We also had phenomenal success at GCSE with an A*, 10As and a B from a class of 12. Hopefully those sorts of results are likely to be repeated again this year.
'I try and instil in the students the sense of presentation and being professional. They look at other photographers and artists in context. They are working well within a structure but they are still expressing themselves individually, which results in an amazing variety of work. What we really encourage them to do is to be individual in their style so we treat them like working artists from an early age.'