THOUGHTS ON FILM – An aspect I enjoy about 35mm film photography is the character of the medium, itself, such as grain and the manner in which film reacts to light, which is different than the way digital sensors process light. These add to the sum of the final product and become as important as subject matter, composition and exposure.
FILM FRIDAY – This is a selection of images created by middle school students from Houston’s Robert M. Beren Academy. I had the opportunity to teach a three-part film photography workshop with the students at the end of this school year.
Part one involved about 10 minutes of 35mm-film-camera instruction, followed by about 30 minutes of shooting time. For the second session, we learned to process the black-and-white film (HP5+) in class. Finally, the students had a chance to experiment with film scanning, editing via Lightroom and Photoshop, then printing some of their images on Hahnemuele’s beautiful 4X6-inch and new 5X7-inch photo cards.
The students worked in pairs and were assigned a shot list, challenging them to create images based on symmetry, rule of thirds, leading lines, contrast, repeating patterns, story and a few other parameters.
The entire group was new to the medium of film, and most had only limited experience with digital. The cameras they used for the worksop were all vintage and fully manual (the earliest model being a Contax II rangefinder and the newest being a Nikon FM), and only some had working light meters, if at all. I was impressed with how well most of the students correctly calculated exposure.
The highlight was how excited the students were throughout the experience. Beren is a Modern Orthodox Jewish day school, known for its academics and Judaics curricula. The school was slated to invest in its digital photography program for next year, but now is planning to launch a new, full-blown film photography unit, instead.
I’m a self-taught photographer, who only learned film a year ago. I’ve found that it’s great fun to engage kids through this medium, and it’s wonderful to see them connect with it and keep film alive in the process.
Photography has done so much for my life. It’s nice to share that with others–especially kids.