Los Alamos Lab
Michelle Griffin, (r.), looks on as her husband Matthew, (l.) and UNM-LA staffer Alex Zubelewicz, (c.) move one of the four donated enlargers.
Credit: UNM-LA

Traditional darkroom photography skills­—developing film, printing, enlarging and using filters—are still valuable for aspiring photographers to learn. UNM-LA recently donated a significant amount of darkroom equipment to the photography program at Los Alamos High School where 75–100 students take photography classes each semester.

“We now have enough equipment for every student, and we can think about expanding our darkroom to another area,” said Michelle Griffin, LAHS Photography teacher. “This will also help my teaching and make class run smoother with more materials to go around.”

Items donated include enlargers, filters, developing trays and chemistry storage bottles.

“This donation will help our students in so many ways," Griffin said. "We can replace non-working enlargers with better ones, and the students now have enough film developing tanks to process their film. It will take a little bit of time to get the equipment cleaned and ready for students to use, but we will make use of all of it as soon as possible.”

Cindy Rooney, UNM-LA interim executive director said, “As UNM-LA expands and develops new programs, we must also look at the need to eliminate some classes and/or programs. In this case, the cost of offering the traditional photography classes continued to increase while the number of students enrolling in the courses was decreasing. We found that more students were interested in digital photography classes.” 

UNM-LA will continue to offer classes in digital photography such as Digital Imaging Techniques (ARTS 289), Introduction to Digital Media Arts (DMA 165), and Introduction to Digital Imaging and Scanning (DMA 101) in their course rotations. The former darkroom space will be repurposed for use by the Robotics program. An upcoming renovation and expansion of the EMS/Fire Science classrooms will lead to relocation of an Art classroom and the Robotics classroom.

“Last spring, when we first started looking at the potential elimination of the darkroom, the Department Chair of our Art Department asked that we try to find a good home for the equipment and supplies. We are delighted LAHS was interested in the equipment and we look forward to seeing some of the creative work done by the students at the high school,” Rooney said.

“We are ever so grateful to UNM-LA for the generous gift, especially all of the staff who worked to make this happen,” Griffin said. “I’m thankful that we can come together as a community to make the photography program at LAHS great.”

For more information about UNM-LA, and any of their classes or programs, visit losalamos.unm.edu or call UNM-LA Student Services at (505) 662-0323.