International Journal of Art & Design Education

Why Throw the Negs Out with the Bathwater? A Study of Students' Attitudes to Digital and Film Photographic Media

Volume 31.2   2012



As today's digital applications hold our gaze and become increasingly ubiquitous, it is easy to dismiss the previous technologies and processes that provided yesterday's creative opportunities. Photography has been revolutionised by digital capture and transmission in the past decade. It could be argued that there is a digital orthodoxy in education, which has democratized and engaged increasing numbers of students, and has had a particular influence in A Level Photography. Over the past decade many traditional darkrooms have been replaced by computer suites. My concern is that if secondary schools and colleges with the facilities to teach film are forced to convert to a singular digital mode, we may be throwing the negs out with the bathwater.
This study uses qualitative and quantitative research that I have undertaken at a Further Education college in England. It explores students' attitudes to learning Photography with an artistic curiosity, which includes experiential learners, and those that eschew the digital age who are content with the organic variety of analogue learning that film offers. They make their own case for maintaining the opportunity to learn through hybrid activity that embraces both media, for a multiplicity of learning opportunities and media that are not limited by any orthodoxy, digital or otherwise.