Photographic Processes

Videos provide resource for photography classes


William Love

A question I always ask students in my digital photography class is what would people in the 1500s think of your phone.

It is easy to take for granted the device we have in our pocket. I try in the class to put how remarkable the photography process is for the digital natives I teach.

“I think it is impossible for us today to imagine what a revelation the first photographs would have been to people — these mirrors with memory — to record things that looked just like what we saw,” says Alison Nordstrom, an independent curator of photographs.

She is right. But to help explain that wonder, the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, N.Y., has produced the Photographic Processes Video Series.

The series takes the viewer through the history of photography with 12 short videos. Each video averages about 5 minutes. I show a video a day over a month.

I like this because in a classes with 25 students, where not everybody is serious about photography, plenty of students would struggle through an hour-long video about processes that unfortunately aren’t used much anymore.