Winter Term, 2016

Here it is, the final term. I expect to receive an AS in Photographic Technology, after not really planning on doing more than taking a couple of classes. This doesn’t mean I won’t take more (photo) classes at WCC, in fact I’d like to take Alternative Processes again if it’s offered, but there’s no end goal. When I started in 2012, I wanted merely to update my skills, and thought I’d take a class or two and that would be it. But then I started working in the Photo Lab, and was reintroduced to film, and began to really explore what it’s like to be an artist-photographer.

The more you do something you enjoy, the more you look to expanding your capability to do it. For me, that involves looking at MFA programs. I want to know what photography is, I want to figure out how it is both a commodity and a scarce resource, and I want to know how I can present photographs in ways other than mounted and framed (or in a digital slideshow). I think the right program with the right faculty could help me learn this.

That last paragraph sounds like it could be part of the paperwork I have to produce for Portfolio Seminar. As a capstone course, it’s intended to get students thinking about what’s next for their photography career. Some students go on to a four-year college and finish with an art or some other degree; some start their own businesses; some go to grad school. Some are simply finished and then they go back to making pictures they like to make, but with some incredible skills. (For all of the jokes about community colleges, the WCC Photo program is really good.1)

I’m not sold on the idea of grad school, but as I mentioned to a friend, it’s a way to make the photos I want to make and get some pay for it. Not all grad programs pay their students of course, and the ones that do don’t necessarily pay everything, but I would avoid having huge expenses if I found the right home. The alternative is to do the stuff I want to do, and try to find more client-based work. That’s not a bad plan, either, but until I spend the time really researching MFA programs, I won’t know where my time will be better spent.

So that is one class laid out—what do I want to do when I grow up? What about the others?

The second class I’m enrolled in is Film and Darkroom Photography. Last semester WCC revamped the course from a semi-advanced elective into a required beginning class. I believe that it is WCC’s commitment to film that sets it apart from other photo programs (such as that MFA program I footnoted earlier). I don’t need the class to graduate (being under a different matriculation schedule), but I like the instructor and would like to have a bit more chemical time. I fear, however, that I won’t be able to devote as much attention to the class as I would like, especially since I won’t be able to get darkroom time outside of the class period. They try to provide a few hours of “open” darkroom time per week, but I’m scheduled to work then. I’ll decide after the first class if I’m going to continue in it.

My final class is History of Photography, which is required. I have Art History credits from my previous university work, but this class is specifically called out as a requirement. I like the instructor, and I like the subject, so I hope it will turn out ok.

One of the reasons I’ve signed up for three classes plus three periods of assisting is to get practice for being a grad student. If I can’t handle it at this relatively low level, then perhaps full-time grad school isn’t for me.

It’s shaping up to be a busy, emotional, and exciting semester. We’ll see if I last until May!

  1. I found a MFA program that offers full tuition plus a stipend for its (10 or so) students. Sounds great, and it might be good for painting or sculpture, but their photography program is not nearly as comprehensive as WCCs.