Jeremy H. Greenberg | Blog #114 Teaching [Primary] Students to Shoot Film

Blog #114 Teaching [Primary] Students to Shoot Film

June 02, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Blog #114 Teaching [Primary] Students to Shoot Film


Many of us are blessed and lucky to have caring and enthusiastic teachers in our primary years.  Their attitudes towards learning and the classroom are infectious. 

Nikon D610

I’ve mentioned in previous blogs that I teach photography. I have run workshops for students and adults. In the international school where I work we have a darkroom.  The students can sign up for a School Extension Activity or SEA Course that is an hour long after school class for about eight weeks. I host a be of these for students usually middle school or high school aged although we have had students participate who were as young as 10 years old. 

We use 35mm fully manual cameras and the students learn exposure, developing, and printing techniques. Aside from the fact that it’s loads of fun, there are benefits to teaching photography for me as well. 

Firstly, the information and activities needs to be organised and paced appropriately through the lessons. There is a lot of room for error and we must control for as many of these variables as possible as if we were conducting a formal experiment.  The developing chemicals and materials must be purchased and in stock ahead of the class and the darkroom instruments must be in fully working condition before the students begin. 

Darkroom techniques can vary and the students need just enough information to get results without having to know all of the underlying processes involved in developing film and making prints. 

Here’s the simple lesson plan:

  1. The first class is an introduction to the camera and exposure. 
  2. The second we go outside and shoot a roll of film. The students are then sent home with a spool and exposed (wasted) roll of 35mm Film to practice loading the film without looking. 
  3. The third class we develop a rolls and hang them to dry. Inset up the chemicals before the students arrive in the darkroom to save time. I usually cut and stuff the negatives into sleeves before the fourth class for them. 
  4. Next, we make contact sheets and one or two prints from their first roll. 
  5. We spend the remaining four classes shooting, developing, and mostly printing. 
  6. The students finish the class with a few good prints that I help them to frame and display in the corridor outside the darkroom designed for this purpose. 

It’s a pretty fast paced process and it’s great fun for me and for them. We can graduate to digital at some point and focus on compositional techniques, projects, and series as well in future SEA courses. It’s a true life skill to be able to make decent images. Today, it’s been said that everyone is a photographer. It’s also been said that if you shoot film, you’re a “real” photographer, whereas if you shoot digital, you’re an editor. Either way, preparing students for a lifetime of image making is benefit to them and their families. 

If you feel that you have what it takes to teach others, or you think that you might, I encourage you to give yourself the opportunity and see how it goes. 

Good luck! 

The light is always right.



*Images: © Jeremy H. Greenberg

Where: Hong Kong

Subject: THS Students shooting their first roll of 35mm black and white film

Gear: Leica Minilux Point and shoot 35mm film camera + Agfa Vista Plus 400 Color 35mm film and Kodak Tri-X 400 Black and White 35mm film

Nikon D610 Nikon D610 Nikon D610 Nikon D610 Nikon D610 Nikon D610 Nikon D610 Nikon D610 Nikon D610 Nikon D610 Nikon D610 Nikon D610 Nikon D610 Nikon D610 Nikon D610 Nikon D610 Nikon D610 Nikon D610


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