Darkroom photography

Darkroom photography still alive at suburban colleges
By Tara Garcia Mathewson

Darkroom photography

Travis Linville, assistant professor of photography, works with student Jessica Cannon in the Elgin Community College darkroom. Photo by John Starks.

In this era of Instagram and point-and-shoot digital cameras, students at Elgin Community College are staying close to the roots of the art that dates back to the 1800s.

While not necessarily stressing darkroom photography over digital, students are encouraged to embrace all the tools available to them.

“Why do we have to get rid of the old process just because we get something new?” said photography professor Travis Linville. “We don’t throw out our traditional ovens just because we get microwaves. We understand there are advantages to both.”

Beginning photography courses at ECC, College of DuPage and McHenry County College all teach students how to process film in a darkroom; advanced classes also are available for interested students.

A question-and-answer section on the College of DuPage Photography Department website describes why students are required to take introductory courses in darkroom and digital before moving on to more advanced study.

“We believe that, for any serious photographer, knowing the basics of both the chemical and digital aspects of the medium is critical,” the website reads.

Programs such as Photoshop for editing digital images are designed based on film’s roots. Many of the tools are named for processes used in darkroom developing.

At Harper College, though, the introductory course emphasizes digital.

Read the full story here.


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