By Dennis Grantz, Photography Teaching Artist

While the digital age has long since dawned on the world of photography, old-school analog approaches are still alive and well in the photo studio at WMCAT.

Virtually every person you see on the street today has a camera with them in the form of their phone, including most high school students. What was once relegated to the realm of those with a technical knowledge of the camera is now available to the masses, and the proliferation of digital photos being created and shared has rocketed the medium into a new universe of possibilities.  Advancements in automatic functions allows users to get well exposed, well focused images on a consistent basis, and a nominal understanding of image manipulation tools can produce effects never imagined before the coming of photo sensors and Photoshop.

The rise of digital photography has yielded another result: the elevation of analog film photography to the exalted status of true hand-made art. It now joins other alternative processes from photography’s earlier days as unique, one-of-a-kind processes practiced by the serious few.

WMCAT photography students are using high quality digital SLR cameras and professional quality printers to produce award-winning works, but some of the best fun is found on the other side of the revolving door to the darkroom, where black and white prints are made the old-fashioned way. This door alone (or the Time Machine, as I like to call it) is a magnet for students, and a portal to a place where image magic happens. At one time the source of all photographic production, very few darkrooms are now to be found. The one at WMCAT is a beauty, and it is a magical place. Watching an image slowly appear, emerging from a blank sheet of paper in the developing tray never fails to bring forth twitters of amazement and squeals of delight from students new to the experience. Where most images made today are done sitting in front of a computer, here there is a little thrill of mystery, gathered in a dim, amber-lit room conjuring up pictures from nothing but chemicals and light. This is adventure!

Add the fun of making their own pinhole camera from nothing but a cardboard box and you have truly unique works invoked from the fertile imaginations of our teen photographers.