By Catherine Van Weele
The new Marin School of the Arts photography and digital art teacher at Novato High has caused discord amongst photography students by getting rid of film photography this year. Howard Gersh has an extensive field of knowledge in digital art and has worked for Lucas Films on several major motion pictures including Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Forest Gump. Gersh has already thrown away the rolls of film and chemicals used to process the film.
“I’m not crazy about the chemicals,” Gersh said. “I want to say [film] is kind of dated as well.”
Gersh wants to take a more modern approach to all of his classes. He plans to go completely digital and is even trying to get rid of paper.
The former photography teacher, Dana Tamura, understands his decision. It costs a couple thousand dollars to provide rolls of film and chemicals for the students every year. Tamura believes it is likely that she would have made the class all digital herself in years to come. Tamura had always required first-year students to shoot with film during their first semester of the class.
“It will be harder for [the first-years] to get a handle on controlling the cameras and not having the cameras control them,” Tamura said. “It really takes using film, where the cameras are not automatic, in order to really get a handle on aperture and shutter speed and how they all relate to each other.”
Third-year photography student Natalie Fontillas, agrees it is unfortunate the first-year students will not have the opportunity to use film cameras or develop film themselves. Fontillas had been planning to shoot in film this year. While Gersh is giving the advanced students the option to shoot in film, students will have to purchase the film rolls and pay for the development of the film. This can be pricy. In the past, Tamura had always supplied students with the needed materials at no cost.
Rachael Jones, a third-year photography student, describes this transition as a bittersweet moment.
“In a sense we are getting rid of something we don’t use and we are coming into this new age of photography,” Jones said. “But at the same time it’s sad to see the first real form of photography go.”
Although some students are displeased with this decision, they are looking forward to seeing what Gersh has to offer.