A school has appealed for help in kitting out a second darkroom as teachers go back to basics claiming that digital imaging has u2018deskilledu2019 photography.


Picture credit: King Edward VI Aston School

Demand among pupils for traditional methods has swelled since King Edward VI Aston School in Birmingham set up a photographic society and offered photography courses as an ‘enrichment’ option.

Pupils have been able to experience using film alongside digital imaging after the school converted a basement room into its first darkroom three years ago.

David Healey, photography tutor at the school, which educates boys aged 11-18, said: ‘The unique look and feel of film images, as well as the enjoyment of physically creating your own photos, has proved very popular with pupils.

‘High levels of automation in digital photography have, to an extent, deskilled photography, so we are helping boys understand the technology in their phones and other cameras, control it, and use it to achieve the photos they want.

‘We teach boys to, for example, focus manually – a new experience to most because of autofocus. Waiting for your print to appear out of the developer is also a unique experience.’

Matthew, a Year 12 pupil, said: ‘I find that using film photography and getting to grips with the various processes in and around the darkroom not only helps give you creative control over your photography that is much different to digital, but also seems to perfectly complement learning and understanding of all aspects of photography.’

Photography coursework surge

The school runs workshops on close-up photography and is trialling GCSE Art, based entirely on photography.

Last year, 48 pupils learnt to process and print their own film as part of the photography enrichment courses.

Students are increasingly using both and film and digital photography in their GCSE and A-level coursework, according to Healey.

However, higher demand has meant that the existing darkroom, which has a maximum occupancy of eight, was too small – forcing the school to open a second one.

The new darkroom is designed to cater for up to 16 pupils but is not yet kitted out, so the school has launched an appeal for unwanted 35mm enlargers suitable for b&w printing.

‘Offers of other working photo equipment and materials are welcome,’ adds the school which is also after studio flash and a portable background system so it can teach lighting and portraiture techniques.

  • Anyone who can make a donation is urged to contact David Healey at d.healey@keaston.bham.sch.uk or Mrs M Simcox at m.simcox@keaston.bham.sch.uk

  • Stephen swain

    Rediculous…they should be learning to master Photoshop and Lightroom etc…and concentrate on teaching composition etc how to get the best quality files out of the camera. I worked in dark rooms for 10 years and this sounds like the teachers harking back to what they perceive we’re the good old days”..MOVE ON PLEASE!

  • John Austin www.jbaphoto.com.au/

    This is like a breath of fresh air to me

    We have the relics of a school darkroom cluttering up the shed, waiting for the day when someone wants it

    Anyone setting up a darkroom in WA please get in contact, some stuff free, some stuff cheap and two enlargers of mine very not cheap

  • Chris T L R Maniac

    Hallelujah! Welcome to the Church of the Holy Trinity of Dev, Stop and Fix! 🙂

  • Richard Taylor

    We can help…www.NTphotoworks.com

  • Joseph Booker

    I am in the photo and agree with Mr Healey, he has taught me loads and I want to thank him now.
    Thanks.

  • John Bamber

    After 60 years in photography (45+ using film) I have begun to despair at the poor quality of digital imagery being produced. Using digital means & P/shop, you don’t HAVE to get it right any more – just pick the best from a batch of mediocre efforts & hope for the best.
    Using (say) a roll of 120 film with 10 6cm x 7cm frames to play with in a totally manual camera and separate exposure metre both concentrates the mind and gives wonderful negatives from which to print.
    It can only improve the quality and satisfaction of those willing to make the effort.