SU22 Tuesday Introduction to Black and White Photography

Day/Time: 8 Tuesdays starting June 21, 6:00-8:30pm

Location: SAA Darkroom (W20-426)

Instructor: Jacob Geiger

Self portrait photograph of reflection of a man in a storefront window in New Orleans.
Lee Friedlander, New Orleans, 1970.

Photography started with black-and-white chemical processes, and black-and-white analog photography remains an important medium. During the semester, students will learn how to make successful photographs with a 35mm manual analog camera. We will use the SAA’s black and white darkroom to develop film and make silver gelatin prints. Students will participate with the instructor in critique, giving and receiving feedback to sharpen their technical skills and conceptual strategies. We will also look at black-and-white film photographers for visual inspiration and to study the ways photography can function as a powerful medium of expression.

*Owning a camera is NOT a requirement of this class. However, the SAA camera supply is limited and availability is not guaranteed. Students who will use their own camera should have a model that offers:

  • electronic metering
  • manual focus, and
  • manual exposure

Students considering purchasing a camera are encouraged to contact the instructor to ensure their camera is suitable for the course. Students who would like to borrow a camera from the SAA must contact the instructor before the first day of class.

Materials will be discussed on the first day of class. Students should secure film and 35mm cameras before the first class; other supplies will not be needed until the second class:

  • 50 sheets RC multigrade black and white photo paper, 8 x 10 inches, pearl or glossy. (A good, reasonably priced product is Ilford Multigrade RC Deluxe.) Do not open your paper outside the darkroom. Exposure to light will fog and ruin the paper.
  • 10 rolls of Kodak Tri-X or Ilford HP5 film, ISO 400
  • A box or 3 ring binder to store negatives
  • An 8″x10″x1″ proof box to store prints

Places to buy materials:

  • Locally: Hunt’s Photo and Video There is one located in Cambridge and one near Kenmore Square.
  • B&H Photo and Video, KM Camera, and Adorama have large online stores (and brick-and-mortar locations in NYC) that are often cheaper than Hunt’s. B&H offers an educational discount if you create an account with your MIT email.
  • KEH sells used cameras and lenses and offers a student discount
  • It is also possible to purchase cameras and lenses over eBay, Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace, but these can be riskier methods that offer little recourse if something is wrong with the equipment. Consultation with the instructor is encouraged if using these sites.


  •  June 21, 2022 - August 20, 2022
     6:00 pm - 11:55 pm
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