Surprise in my journalism class

Looking at these photos sometimes takes me back to my days in journalism school in the ‘60s.  I know.  I know.  That was a long, long time ago.  Anyway, I was in the first journalism class offered at Niagara College in Southern Ontario and you could say that we were the guinea pigs.  Our teacher Austin Jelbert was an old pro in the business and he was fantastic.

No doubt Austin’s frustration was that he was to teach us how to shoot photos and develop film…but without the equipment.  It was one little detail that management left out when they put the program together. You can be sure things have changed dramatically today.

One morning Austin gathered the class of just 13 of us and announced that today, we were going to develop a roll of film.  We were puzzled.  Did anybody tell him that we didn’t have a darkroom?

Well, he walked up to a tall metal office cabinet in the classroom, he opened the double doors, and emptied the few boxes that were inside and removed the shelves.  He then scanned the room.  I found out later he was looking for the smallest guy in the room.

The lights in the room were turned off as I climbed in and then crouched into the cabinet with a 36-exposure roll of film in one hand and an empty canister in other.  Bottles of chemicals were handed to me and the door was closed and clicked behind me.  I could hear Austin’s muffled voice as he explained to the class what I would be doing on his instructions, for the first time in my life, in the dark, behind those closed doors.

I guess you could say we were learning photography from the top drawer to the bottom.