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Just the beginning

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  • Isaac Diggs walking the students through the intricacies of exposures

  • The students editing their contact sheets in search of a strong image

  • The students’ darkroom orientation

Not very often will a beginner photographer get an intensive class at a prestigious art school, but that is exactly what happened for the 2015 class of Expanding the Walls. Many of the participating students came to the program without any previous knowledge of photography. Slightly overwhelmed, some of the students worried about how they would capture images with a high tech camera. While a few students had some experience in photography, they still lacked an in-depth understanding of the camera’s workings. So to ease the students into using their cameras and the world of photography, Isaac Diggs, photography professor at Schools of Visual Arts, lent a helping hand. Throughout the month of February, ETW class sessions took place at the SVA campus, where Diggs led an intensive class covering the technicalities of the camera as well as the bases of black and white darkroom photography. The students got to shoot frames on a Hasselblad camera, which required many manual adjustments. After, the students got the opportunity to take their negatives and make contact sheets out of them. Concluding the editing process, the students then printed select images in the darkroom. All walked away with prints that they were proud of, as well as an understanding of the techniques used in capturing and producing the final product. In the end, the students did not walk away with only negatives and prints, but with the skills and knowledge of every step—from composing the image, to producing the print, to developing a photographic eye—and that was the ultimate souvenir.