Clarification on camera obscura

6th June 1997 at 01:00
As a professional photographer and qualified teacher, I fail to see why Brendan O'Malley has a problem with photography ceasing to be available as a separate GCSE and A-level subject (TES Music and the Arts Extra, May 16).

Graphic design and ceramics, for example, are not taught separately. It makes far more economic and administrative sense to do away with a separate course for photography, and I do not see that it will be taught any worse, as in most cases the same people will teach it.

The argument that photography should maintain separate courses because it is a special case ("we live in the age of the photographic image") does not stand up to scrutiny. Most of the images we see are only reproductions of photographs (a subtle but distinct difference) and the majority of these have been electronically manipulated in some way - we live in the age of the digital image. Professionals are learning to live with this, but it has yet to be accepted in education, which views photography as a craft, not an occupation.

Rather than arguing for photographic independence, anyone who claims to have an interest in the future of photography should be more concerned about what is taught and by whom, and of changing the attitude of educational establishments towards the involvement of professionals. I was not allowed to do to a PGCE in art and design as my art college degree in photography was considered "too technical". I had to study design and technology instead, only to find in the first school I went to that photography was part of the art department and as a "technologist" I wasn't considered "arty" enough to teach it.

There is more to being a photographer than just owning a camera, and more to teaching it than having its own A-level.


Home Farm 3 Water Lane Ashwell, Rutland

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