"You have been assigned the fall and summer semesters."
Probably the most difficult news I received before my sophomore year started was that I had been assigned the summer semester. I was planning on taking Photo II with my photography professor Sarah Knobel, and I was going to miss my senior friends' graduation and other things that usually happen in the spring. I was devastated telling Sarah that I couldn’t attend her in-person class in the spring because I was going to be at home. I worried that I would lose out on four months of being with my friends and doing activities I enjoyed.
That was until Sarah came up with the genius idea of doing an independent study focused on photography. I was ecstatic. Ten weeks of working with a large format 4x5 camera, all to myself.
Large format cameras represent some of the earliest photographic technology. I've always admired the way people used to handle things back then, especially when it came to photography, dealing with lengthy exposures, and finding the right apertures. For my independent study, I walk around with my large bulky camera, which allows me to snap four images before having to change the film. Then, I transport those pieces of film to the darkroom where they are developed and can view the final images when I scan the film or make a contact sheet.
I really like black and white images for some reason. They're fascinating to look at, and the fact that they're in black and white adds to the drama of the image. When I took Photo I, we were dealing with film cameras. It was a pain having to change out the film and wait to develop the film. That's exactly what I’m doing all over again, I just have a larger camera and more familiarity with the process this time around.
I have enormous love for photography and my professor. She pushes me to think outside the box, and I push back with new and wild ideas she's never considered. My abilities have improved as a result of the practice, and our connection has become stronger as a result of our shared passion for photography and cameras.
I have never done an independent study before. Working with several film sizes and a larger camera is a dream come true. Even though setting up each image, focusing the camera, changing film, obtaining a light meter reading, and finally being able to shoot the photo might be tedious at times, it's worth it when I see the results.
The summer semester has been hard but I wouldn’t want anything to have happened differently. This summer I have worked on different cameras, made new friends, gotten to spend time with some of the closest people to me, and most importantly, grown my connection with my passion. It’s been a fun semester, who knows what I’ll do next!