1. Education

Gulf Coast Academy students take a step back in time in film photography class

Gulf Coast Academy eighth-grader Kara Peters, 13, removes film from canisters in a black cloth bag.
Published Dec. 16, 2015

SPRING HILL — Gulf Coast Academy eighth-grader Kara Peters was halfway up to her elbows in an elasticized black bag. She was moving stuff around inside that needed to be kept completely out of the light.

For anyone old enough to remember using cameras that operated with film, she was moving the film from its canister to a developing tank. Kara, 13, is in Gulf Coast's after-school film photography class. And as an eighth-grader, since she has opted to take the class each year, this is her third time.

"I really enjoy expressing myself creatively, and photography is a really good way to do that," she said. "I've done digital photography before, and I find doing this gives me a closer relationship to the photography, and it shows passion because this shows you really want to do it."

The club's adviser is Dylan Barnes, the school's technology teacher.

"I'm a film photographer. That's why I started the club," Barnes said. "They learn what film is, how to load it. They learn all the film processing. It's all black and white."

Sixth-grader Jailyn Nunez, 11, said her parents told her about the film classes they took in school, and she decided to take the class to find out "if it was a lot of fun or just a regular class," she said. Her assessment turned out to be favorable.

"It's actually really amazing, just taking pictures of nature and things out there, because it's like a mystery of what you took a picture of. You have to wait to develop and scan the pictures," she said.

Seventh-grader Joey Murray, 13, also likes the mystery aspect of film photography.

"The developing process is fun," he said. "You don't know how they are going to come out, so there's some suspense. You feel really good when it turns out."

Barnes has goals he hopes the students absorb. The purpose of the class, he said, is "to teach the kids patience when they're shooting photography," he said. "It makes them compose their images. It makes them frame it. Instead of instant gratification, they have to wait for their reward."

Joey seems to get that.

"You get a lot more pride in it," he said. "Instead of taking 50 pictures, you have to actually work for this."

Joey hopes to take the class again next year and then return as a volunteer after he has left Gulf Coast for high school.

Offering a film class requires a few things, not the least of which is film cameras, both point-and-shoots and single-lens reflex. Barnes has 10 to 15 of his own that the students use, and others from a group called the Film Photography Project.

"They donated 30 to 40 cameras," Barnes said.

The students buy their film, equipment and chemicals online. Students pay $5 to take the class, but Barnes welcomes donations for the consumables.

What they do not have — yet, anyway — is a darkroom for photo printing.

"We develop the film and archive it digitally using a film scanner," Barnes said.

Recently, students chose two or three of their favorites for printing, and the school held an exhibit for parents and friends.


  1. Gov. Ron DeSantis greets local officials at Dunedin High School on Oct. 7, 2019, part of a swing around the state to announce his plan to boost starting teacher pay in Florida to $47,500. He revealed a related teacher bonus plan on Nov. 14 in Vero Beach. MEGAN REEVES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The new plan would replace the controversial Best and Brightest model that DeSantis had called confusing.
  2. Hillsborough Community College solicited "non-binding letters of interest or intent” last month from developers interested in purchasing the Dr. Gwendolyn W. Stephenson District Administration Center on Davis Islands. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    Developers have eyed the 3.7 acre waterfront parcel for years, but recent interest has prompted the college’s trustees to finally start the conversation.
  3. Cotee River Elementary student Darrell Jones waves his American flag during the school's Veterans Day program.
    The School Board is scheduled to vote on the calendar next week.
  4. Pasco eSchool principal JoAnne Glenn is surprised by school district officials who announced she is their 2020 Principal of the Year. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    A discussion with Pasco County Principal of the Year JoAnne Glenn.
  5. An investiture ceremony is set for Thursday at 2 p.m. inside USF’s Yuengling Center in Tampa. Currall and other USF leaders will speak about the school’s future.
  6. Experts are recommending the flu shot as outbreaks pop up in Hillsborough County schools.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  7. The Pasco County school district is considering an increase in substitute teacher pay to combat its low fill rate for the jobs.
    District officials say more competitive wages could help fill vacancies, which have been rising.
  8. JoAnne Glenn is cheered by her staff as deputy superintendent Ray Gadd and other district officials surprise her with the announcement that she is Pasco County's 2020 Principal of the Year. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    JoAnne Glenn next will be entered for the statewide honor.
  9. Pasco County school superintendent Kurt Browning briefly blocked a critic from his social media accounts. He has since restored access to the person but says he would rather they have a conversation, “like two grown adults.” [Times (2016)]
    Kurt Browning restored his online nemesis as a Twitter follower and Facebook friend after staffers told him that blocking people was a no-no.
  10. Shawn Tye, left, applies fiberglass to a boat console as Dustin Pirko looks at Marchman Technical Education Center. Hernando’s business development manager says that in creating a technical school an effort would be made not to duplicate Marchman.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.