The studio art minor in the Harpur College of Arts and Sciences will now include the option to focus on photography.

Starting in the fall 2021 semester, the studio art minor currently offered at Binghamton University will provide students the ability to concentrate on photography as their desired field. Students can choose a track in drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking or graphic design, and will now have photography as a sixth option. With a minimum of six courses required to complete the minor, Kathleen Brunt, assistant dean for academic affairs and advising, suggested that all students should take the opportunity to explore the new concentration.

“This new minor track in photography might be a great complement to a degree in another school at [BU] and, like a fine wine, pairs well with many majors in Harpur College,” Brunt wrote in an email. “We live in a society that values photographs. Why not learn how to express yourself better through this medium?”

Hans Gindlesberger, associate professor of photography at BU, credits the minor’s creation to the existing interest in the field among the student body.

“The photography classes are extremely popular amongst the student body at [BU],” Gindlesberger said. “The photographic image is really central to not only contemporary art-making, but also to our everyday lives and current social moment, so it makes sense to establish this field of study at BU and make it available to art majors through the [Bachelor of Arts] and a forthcoming [Bachelor of Fine Arts] option, and to students from other majors who have an interest in the creative aspect or the ways photography can relate to their major disciplines.”

Courtney Aslan, a senior majoring in business administration, attested to this enthusiasm for photography and the other studio arts and expressed that this minor will give students the chance to study their passions.

“I think [the minor] is an amazing idea!” Aslan said. “As a business major with an extreme passion for photography, I found it impossible to have any time to take photography courses, as they had nothing to do with my major and weren’t a requirement. Double-majoring just to take photography courses seemed like a lot, given my already heavy course load. So the concept of a minor instead would have been an awesome alternative!”

Based on the standing photography curriculum, creating the new track was free from opposition according to Natalija Mijatovic, chair of the department of art and design.

“The process of introducing a minor is not complicated like the process for a major which requires approval from SUNY,” Mijatovic said. “Our minor was approved by the Harpur College Council, based on a strong proposal and a solid photography curriculum.”

Supporting the addition of the photography track, Brunt stressed the significance of expanding the list of minors offered at BU.

“I think it is important to continue to look at Harpur College’s curriculum and update it as we see change happening in the world and as our faculty change,” Brunt said. “This allows us to grow and provide rich and diverse offerings to our students taught by experts in their field.”

Students will take existing courses in the photography program at the beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. Two elective courses at the 300- to 400- level from any of the studio art disciplines are required as well as an introductory class in any of the tracks besides photography. According to Gindlesberger, this is to allow students to explore the other disciplines along with immersion into the world of photography.

“In the sequence of photography classes, students are exposed to a broad range of photographic practices, from fundamental techniques of ‘seeing’ with the camera to workflow in both digital and darkroom labs, to historical and experimental processes, culminating in the creation of a self-directed portfolio that reflects their own vision as an artist,” Gindlesberger wrote.

Gindlesberger explained that the addition of photography to the studio art minor has provided a new avenue for students to acquire creative knowledge.

“We want students to look at and think critically about the world around them and to teach the skills necessary to be able to design evocative images using a variety of professional equipment, software and processes,” Gindlesberger said. “The range of experiences offered is aimed at stimulating the student’s creativity and getting them to imagine photography as a tool to relate to the world and to carry their message out into society.”