Thursday, November 17, 2011

It's a big 'ole life update.


So. A lot has happened in the past couple of weeks. A few weeks ago, I was super gung-ho about going back to school. I was going to do another Bachelors' for Fashion Design and Photography. Now... I'm not.

And before you go all "why's she so wishy-washy?" I'll fill you in on my logic.

Last weekend, Columbia college had their annual open house. I went, because I wanted to get the scoop on their programs. The first thing I learned: I fucking love Columbia. Their facilities are amazing, and I would kill to have access to their darkrooms.

The second thing I learned: That I'm WAY more excited about the possibility of shooting and developing my photography than I ever was about fashion.
It's one thing to be fashion-conscious, and to have an interest in the way clothes are constructed, and it's another thing altogether to be thrown into a fashion program.
On the other hand, I got really excited when I could smell the photo chemicals. It was a very familiar atmosphere. And it reminded me why I do stupid shit like compulsively buy cameras, and why I spent a summer afternoon hosing 20 year old darkroom equipment off in my backyard. I really love the process of creating a photograph. I love shooting film and digital equally, but when it comes to physical prints, I prefer traditional printing methods hands-down. If you shoot digitally and print digitally, the whole process is mechanized, and I think there is a coldness to that. But if you print in a darkroom, and your hands are in the chemicals and the paper's in the chemicals and everything is stewing together, you made that thing out of love and human touch, and it becomes a very vital, living object. It becomes a part of you, and you are a part of the art.

Lastly, I've spent the last week kind of stewing over and thinking about the next steps for me. Unlike fashion, Photography can be taught effectively outside the collegiate environment. I don't *need* that degree to progress. It's possible to get enough training and build a portfolio, as well as distilling what I want out of the process, either on my own, or without dropping the $70 thousand for another BA. So I'm looking at a certificate program with the Chicago Photography Center. It's pretty close to my house, and the whole program is three thousand. It would shore up my skills in the darkroom after three or four years of not using them, give me a quick and dirty intro to editing and printing digitally, teach me the basics of Photoshop, and afford me a (somewhat more limited than academically offered) range of electives I could take to broaden my expertise.

The only thing missing from that equation is the wealth of 19th century photographic processes that I'm interested in learning. Those, unlike gelatin-silver and digital processes, I will have to learn on my own. Color photography, I might have to seek special instruction in, since it's so damn difficult and precise. (The actual developing and printing process, that is)

So... that's where I'm at. It's a lot less money, and a good bit less time to invest. And if I think getting a degree is still a good idea at the end of it, then I can always apply to an MFA program with my newly updated and condensed portfolio.

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