Stray from usual classes

All students come to college knowing they have to take certain types of classes: general education requirements, major classes and classes specific to your college.
I never thought I was going to be able to take anything but communication, journalism and English classes. What most students never discover, however, is Bradley has a wide range of fine arts and other classes available for almost anyone to explore.
As I was looking to fill my schedule last semester, my old roommate asked me if I wanted to take a photography class with her. I was under the impression that since I hadn’t taken all the prerequisite drawing classes, I wouldn’t be allowed to take it.
Turns out if you ask the right questions, almost anyone can take basic photography – you don’t even need a camera.
So far this semester I have learned how to shoot a professional camera, develop film and even make my own photos. I have shown my work to everyone, even my sheets of negatives, which don’t really look like anything. This past week I finally made my own prints, which, needless to say, I ran home to show my roommate as soon as possible.
Everyone has dropped a roll of film off at Walgreen’s and came back the next day to pick up their packets of pictures. How many of you can say you made those same pictures, by hand, every step of the way?
That’s what I thought. Nothing is scarier than shooting that perfect roll of film and going into the darkroom to develop it yourself. When you take it to Walgreen’s, you know it will turn out perfectly. Doing it yourself makes you enjoy those pictures even more, because you had to work so hard to make them perfect. My teacher told my class there are more than 50 steps in making good prints. That means 50 chances to mess something up.
But believe me, it is so worth it. After spending days in the darkroom trying to figure out how to make a print, dropping a piece of white paper in the chemicals and watching it develop perfectly in front of your eyes is the best feeling in the world.
I strongly encourage everyone at Bradley to take some form of art class before graduation. Yeah, we all have to take art/theater/music appreciation, but making your own art is a completely different experience. I spend at least six hours a week in the photography labs, but I still can’t get enough. I sure didn’t feel that way about THE 101, Appreciation of Theater.
Only three weeks in Bradley’s art program has made me want to change my major to photography and open a studio, but the program desperately needs help. Some of the enlargers we use to make our prints are as old as I am, and Agnes, the machine that dries negatives, is more than twice my age.
Make no mistake. I love Bradley and all the renovations going on all over campus. I simply have a newfound respect for art majors and the equipment they use. I have beautiful prints from my negatives, all made on enlargers that have been around since my parents were in college, but no one complains.
People in the communication department complain when only half the class has a brand new computer to use, but photo majors appreciate what they have and use it to the best of their abilities, which are incredible.
I know I’m not an art major, and I won’t pretend I have the talent to be one, but photography is the best class I am taking this semester, and I believe just spending time in the art building can inspire anyone.
Jessica Lampe is a junior journalism major from Belleville. She is a Scout copy editor. 
Direct questions, comments and other responses to jlampe@mail.bradley.edu.