Campus Photo Club provides old-school creative outlet in a great space
Faculty adviser Jordan Douglas loves watching students discover wonder as they develop film and create artistic prints in funky Sloane Art Building on North Campus
In a small, dimly lit room in the Sloane Art Building on North Campus, students play music from an old CD player, hang strips of wet film in a corner shower to dry, and find themselves immersed by the glow of a red overhead light.
When Emma Salvatore ‘23, an economics and math double major from Walpole, MA, first found herself under the dim lights in the darkroom, she felt overwhelmed by wonder. She felt a great sense of curiosity after exploring the many photos on the wall and equipment surrounding her.
After joining the Photo Club earlier in the semester, Salvatore now frequently finds herself immersed in the experience of shooting and developing film. “It’s such a great creative outlet. It helps me to step away from the stressors of life and my classes and everything,” said Salvatore.
Becoming part of the club felt like finding a hidden gem on campus, said Salvatore. The resources available to students through the club offer a photography education, regardless of major, minor, prior interest in photography, or experience. “The fact that all of the resources are free and that our adviser Jordan is such a great teacher makes the club a unique and great experience,” said Salvatore.
Jordan Douglas, instructor of Fine Arts and facilitator of the Photo Club, loves watching students grow curious in experimenting with photography and film development. The wonder that Salvatore felt after first stepping into the darkroom is a feeling that Douglas knows well himself. “There’s something about going through the double doors of the dark room and being under red light in a room with enlargers and trays of chemistry; it’s sort of like a transformation that people go through. I hope students take away the childlike exuberance of the process and just playing with their hands,” said Douglas.
Douglas said the club always has been a small, tight-knit group of students, but he encourages any students with an interest in photography to reach out for resources or inquiries about joining the club. “I wish more students knew about Sloane, I think it’s so tucked away that some students don’t even know about the resources over here,” said Douglas. Photography is among a host of art mediums for which Saint Michael’s offers resources and education. Douglas believes that informing students of these resources is vital for growing the Art Department and feeding students’ artistic passions.
The Photo Club also has been a profound teaching experience for Douglas as a way to fulfill his passion for helping students find the message in the art they make. He said when students slow down a bit, load up a roll of film in an old manual camera, then process that film by hand, they become much more aware of what they want to say through their photos. Douglas is able to assist students in building on their newfound passions in photography since the club welcomes all students, regardless of their participation in the club, to use the resources. He is happy to have seen that happen often. “I appreciate helping people find their voices as photographers,” said Douglas.
Salvatore is an example of a student who found this voice through her access to the College’s photography resources. She said her favorite aspect of the Photo Club is getting to take pictures of her friends; she enjoys making those friends “feel like works of art.” She said the act of giving the photos as gifts to loved ones, after she has processed and printed the film, also is rewarding, and presenting her photography to loved ones brings her pride knowing that she has accomplished and communicated something creatively.
The feeling that Salvatore describes is something the Photo Club aims to achieve yearly with its spring exhibition in the Dion Family Student Center. At this annual show in April, Photo Club students have the opportunity to show and enjoy the success of all their hard work with the club.
Douglas said anybody with a connection to the Photo Club is welcome to submit work for the spring exhibition, presented as a display in the student center for about two weeks, with a brief reception to celebrate and congratulate the students on their work. The Club encourages all students, faculty, and staff to attend the reception to congratulate students on their work.
Douglas encourages students of all interests to explore their creative side and step away from any stress with the Photo Club. While film is the most popular type of photography offered in the club, resources and education are available for digital photography as well — a medium of photography for which the Photo Club hopes to see a higher demand in the future.
For more information about accessing resources, photography education, or joining the Photo Club, contact Ethan Li (firstname.lastname@example.org), Mary Kohn (email@example.com), Reagan Dufresne (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Jordan Douglas (email@example.com).