Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Twice Told Tuesday - Photography At School

Twice Told Tuesday features a photography related article reprinted from
my
collection of old photography books, magazines, and newspapers.


PHOTOGRAPHY AT SCHOOL
By Rufus H. Mallinson
The Amateur Photographer Weekly
August 1917


UNKNOWN SCHOOL
Boys and Girls
Bare Feet


There are many phases of photography at school. School life is one of perpetual opportunity for the pictoral photographer, and the playing field a happy hunting ground for the specialist in child studies. Teachers would find a new charm added to their work if they would invest in a camera, and endeavor to record the characteristics of their pupils when at work and play.

Children at play provide countless pictures, and though at first they would probably be severely camera conscious, this soon wears off entirely. The back combination of many a lens allows one to get good-sized pictures at a distance reassuring for the kiddies; but this is by no means absolutely necessary, for it is surprising how soon they become used to the camera snapping round them.

The great majority of teachers would probably take up photography, however, if they knew how helpful it is both in and out of school.

All have agreed long ago as to how quickly children can assimilate instruction when illustrated by lantern slides. The making of lantern slides is one of the most pleasant phases of the work, and a 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 camera lends itself particularly well to this task. In addition to instructional slides, records of work done by scholars, such as maps, drawings, excellent handwriting, caterpillars reared, and birds' nests found form a splendid incentive for progress in school.

Boys and girls consider it a signal honor to have their work perpetuated in the school collection of lantern slides. This collection is a specially enjoyable feature, for all lessons, long walks, play, outdoor studies, and scouting work can be perpetuated by making lantern slides, to the great joy of the children.

Another interesting method of filing the successful studies is by means of school album, a large scrap-book, into which prints made in appropriate processes can be mounted by means of the dry mounting system. An interesting collection can be quickly made in this way, and it is pleasant to have pictures of past events constantly within reach, even as records.

Teachers who get out or assist in running a school magazine will find that one or two pictures in each edition, showing children at their sports or work, are tremendously popular.

With reference to press work, school teachers are placed in a particularly advantageous position, in that they have the whole field of operation to themselves. There is an increasing demand for pictures of school life in the press, and teachers are surely the people who ought to supply these pictures. On the other hand, there are very few teachers who would refuse permission to the outside free-lance press photographer who wised to expose a few plates in school.

Those who specialize in nature study will find photography a very powerful help. The young students are always on the alert to find something worthy of recording in the nature-study diary; but if there is a possibility that their finds will be recorded in the latern-slide collection or in the school album, with their names attached, then their powers of observation are increased a thousand-fold, and the undesirable element of ruthless destruction almost entirely eliminated. A "dry as dust" collection of birds' eggs does not compare in the boy's mind with the album of photographs of the nests containing young ones or eggs, and often including the boys themselves.

As to apparatus, the most suitable camera is a reflex, but a stand camera is better for indoor work. When beginning to photograph small children, it is a good plan to follow the children about as they play, making mock exposures. They soon become quite used to the games, and play naturally, especially if the back combination of the lens is used.

Prints given to the scholars should be on glossy paper, and should show wonderful and fearful detail. Fuzziness and softness in a photograph are features neither understood nor appreciated.

Notes:

Lantern slides: a photographic slide for projection, originally, by a magic lantern.


Sources:

Mallinson, Rufus H. “Photography At School.” The Amateur Photographer's Weekly, August 24, 1917, 155.

Photographs:

Unknown School. Photograph (Card Mount). Unknown. Digital image. Privately held by the footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, Washington. 2007.

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