The expansion has allowed him to teach two 10-student sections of Introduction to Photography this semester in Dudik’s own, unique way. Most intro classes see students using either 35mm or digital cameras, but in Dudik’s class, students shoot with large-format cameras, the ones with bellows and the dark cloths the photographers have to keep over their heads. Think the 1800s.
“No program I’ve heard of starts students off with a large-format camera, which is just a totally different way of working,” Dudik said. “Students make fewer images, but each image is much more considered. They have a higher success rate in making images that actually communicate something, are technically well-exposed, well-developed and well-printed. It’s pretty breathtaking, what they’ve been making with these cameras and with this process so far.”
Dudik, who uses the large cameras in his own professional work, said they also help students grok the essence of photography as capturing light.
“They go back to before the invention of photography,” he said. “It hasn’t changed much since then. It’s as simple as it gets; it’s just a box with a lens and ground glass on the back end, which you replace with a sheet of film. You can put your hand inside the camera and see there’s nothing in there. The opposite of that would be our modern digital cameras, which are full of circuit boards and wires and all sort of things. But through its flexibility, the large-format camera can simultaneously be one of the most complicated, technically, to use.”