PA Grant Report: The Art of Black & White Printing

January 18, 2024

Middle School Administrative Assistant Carlos Corona is a gifted photographer, and his photos regularly appear in this newsletter and on social media. A grant from the MMFS Parents Association allowed him to deepen his darkroom skills.  

Last spring I applied for an MMFS Parents Association summer grant to attend The Art of Black and White Film Photography Printing, offered by The Hamilton Heights Darkroom in Harlem. My passion for photography has spanned the last six years. But three years ago I was approached by the MMFS Communications department to photograph middle school events and activities for print and social media. This grant allowed me to increase my skills and knowledge and add more nuance to my arsenal of abilities, as both a photographer and printer. In return, I am better able to contribute to and share my skills with the MMFS community.

The Hamilton Heights Darkroom’s ethos is the preservation of darkroom printing and film photography. The digitization of photography has endangered the darkroom and its viability as an artistic medium, and HHD’s classes offer accessible instruction in an intimidating art form. During my eight-week class, I was exposed to an intermediate session from the seat of a more seasoned photographer. This class developed my editing capabilities and the control I have in the darkroom, as I worked the developer and solutions manually on photo paper.

A class roundtable conducted by instructor Michael Macioce presented a discussion of methods and styles of shooting, beyond the practical execution of printing within the darkroom. We discussed ‘Studio Photography,’ which is considered a more controllable canvas—a curated story to be told. ‘Street Photography,’ by contrast, is a more nebulous beast with grit, where you can only take what is offered in the fraction of a second. 

We were also given the opportunity for peer feedback of our prints from darkroom sessions, and instructor-reviewed notes for editing our photos; either within the lens, or the chemical process in the darkroom. Michael also took the time to help me develop my film at home to maximize my time and effectiveness in the darkroom. This offered a sense of freedom and ownership of my material that I didn’t previously have. Another benefit of having taken this class was having work submitted from our darkroom sessions, and being part of a fundraising exhibit that the Hamilton Heights Darkroom hosted.

Thank you to the MMFS Parent Association!

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