In the Fall semester of 2015, I took one of my required courses, "Principles of Photography." Although I had already learned how to develop in the darkroom in a photography course in high school, this was one of the hardest courses I ever took in college.
Despite it's difficulty- looking back, I'm grateful for the rigorousness of the course. Without the severity of criticism it engaged in, I wouldn't have developed my visual eye as well without it.
Finding my old prints and contact sheets, I can understand now why our professor was so hard on us and tried to push us to be better. I can see choices I might not have made now. And I can also see areas where I could have improved or put in more effort.
Going forward, that only helped to enforce discipline and aid in the creative decision-making processes (something I always struggled with).
While in the class though it felt almost impossibly difficult. Just because of all the time that was necessary for us to spend not only planning and shooting photos, but also spent in the darkroom, developing the film by hand, selecting negatives, and then printing them over and over until we got them decent enough.
I can understand now that the physical process of discerning negatives and physically developing prints is what guides the development of our own visual value system.
It wasn't until after I had gone through the rigorous process of taking the course did I see the results of all the sharpening it had done for my own creative skills.
Looking back on these prints, I see mistakes, and misguided choices, but I also see early work that was in the stages of real growth.
I always think of that course because I still rely on the knowledge it taught me to this day.