Beginner’s Traditional Photography - This Year’s Shutter Bugs

Sunday, November 15, 2020 - By: Damien B, Privett ‘21

On the bottom floor of Brentwood’s Arts Building is a lively room filled with photography magazines, light tables, and a fascinating historical timeline of cameras. In this room, Brentwood’s photography teacher, Mr Paul Fletcher, educates a variety of student groups at different levels of experience on the art of photography.
Before students are allowed to join the digital photography class, they must go through a training year where they focus on traditional photography, which seems like an entirely different art. The classes of beginners must master the art of carefully crafting a photograph before moving on to more advanced methods.
There is a lot of very technical and specific information that beginners get, and learning how traditional cameras work, how you develop your film without wrecking a month of work, and how you print out a quality photo are all quite delicate activities. Despite this, students remain excited and responsible, eager to expand their expertise.
Mr Fletcher is a very passionate teacher and reminds us always that photography is a very intricate process and that we must establish an understanding of the camera’s and film’s details to portray our vision into the photos we create. Whether it be one’s organization in the darkroom - where you must handle your delicate film in total darkness - or the way one holds the camera so as to not make the picture blurry, one must always be aware of their intentions and movements.
The beginners were recently given the printed color photos they took in the first unit earlier this year. Mr Fletcher picked out his favorites, saying, “These might not be your favorites, but I think those are the most impactful photos, and there might be more in there that I couldn’t choose; there is limited space after all.” The beginners also have submitted their prints of the black and white photos they took over Thanksgiving Break and will soon start working on their next roll.
I had the privilege of spending a day shooting pictures with my grandfather in Toronto. He was very excited when I told him what I was doing for arts this year. He said to me: “Yes, digital photography is more efficient and easy, but traditional photography teaches you to seize only the most essential moments and to carefully imprint them, adding a layer of sentiment to every photo you take.” I will eagerly join my peers in improving my skill and enjoying a more traditional form of photography, one that makes it a bit more memorable.

Damien B, Privett ‘21

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