The history of photographic education in Rochester, New York, 1960--1980
Stuart, Nancy M
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The history of photographic education will be discussed through case studies of two degree granting institutions: The Visual Studies Workshop and Rochester Institute of Technology's School of Photographic Arts and Sciences. Both programs were founded in Rochester, NY and have had major impact on the field of photography at a time when the discipline was relatively new to college campuses. Rochester has long been considered a center of American photography with its roots established by the Eastman Kodak Company founded in 1878. The area provided the infrastructure necessary for a new and growing industry: skilled labor, room to expand and ample transportation. The formation of companies like Bausch and Lomb in 1883 and Xerox Corporation in 1906 made Rochester a center for technological innovation in imaging. At various times since 1878, Rochester has been home to a total of twenty-three camera manufacturers, ten lens companies and eight photographic films, plates and paper manufacturers. 1 RIT and VSW represent divergent approaches to the teaching of college level photography, yet they developed in the same environment and experienced major enrollment growth at the same time. Nationally, Dr. C. William Horrell reported a total of twenty-five degree programs in photography, graduating a total of 143 students per year in 1964. 2 Thirty years later, the Focal Encyclopedia of Photography listed three hundred schools offering undergraduate degrees and sixty offering graduate degrees in photography. 3 Through oral histories the perspective of twenty-two faculty members and alumni were collected and analyzed including Anne Wilkes Tucker, Nathan and Joan Lyons, Carl Chiarenza, Richard Zakia, Robert Hirsch, and Les Stroebel. Materials from both schools' archives were researched including catalogs, campus newspapers, and marketing materials. No written history exists on Rochester's contributions to the development of photographic education. The coalescence of these two schools and Rochester organizations such as The George Eastman House, Kodak, the founding of The Society for Photographic Education, and Light Impressions Corporation contributed to the city being later dubbed the "imaging capital of the world." This dissertation considers the histories of two unique institutions, one representing technical education and the other, alternative education at a time when many university photography programs were experiencing major growth. 1 Robert Sobieszek, Joan Pedzich, and Philip L. Condax, Rochester: An American Center of Photography (Rochester, NY: George Eastman House, 1984), 35. 2 C. William Horrell, "Photography Instruction in Higher Education," (Southern Illinois University, 1964). 3 Leslie Stroebel and Richard Zakia (eds.), Encyclopedia of Photography, 3rd Edition (Boston: Focal Press, 1993), 579.