The Photo Grad Room – A Rare Privilege

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Today I want to talk about something that I think is unique to the photography program here at Columbia College Chicago. Hopefully, students from other programs on campus will not be too jealous of our amenities.

Most of the photography rooms at Columbia (i.e. the Darkrooms, Digital Lab, X-Tech Lab, classrooms, and Museum) are housed in the 600 building. But the 600 building holds something special for the graduate photography students. Among those students, this room is known as the ‘Grad Room’. A long long time ago (2 years) this room, which occupies a fairly large chunk of the 13th floor, was the graduate only black and white dark room. However, there weren’t (and currently aren’t) very many graduate students working in black and white printing. And while the graduates still have a graduate only color darkroom, the black and white has been converted. (THERE ARE STILL BLACK AND WHITE DARKROOMS AVAILABLE, YOU JUST HAVE TO SHARE WITH UNDERGRADS)

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Two years ago the former grad b&w darkroom was converted into a lounge / digital workspace. The first room you encounter upon entering is a lounge area, with a large table, couches, microwave, and fridge. There is usually a fairly decent group of grad students crowded around the table chatting at any given lunchtime.

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As you enter the middle section, you will find storage. Each grad gets a shelf and two file cabinet sized drawers. Grads that are in their second and third years also get a 30×40 flat file drawer.

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Moving into the back part of the room, you will find a large workspace. There are walls lit by track lights and boards for hanging work. There are 5 computers accompanied by an Epson v700 for quick scans, an Epson 3800 for sheet printing up to 17″ wide, two Epson 4800s for roll or sheet printing up to 17″ wide, and a marvelous Epson 9800, for printing up to 44″ wide. All we pay for as grads is our own paper. Just bring it in, load it, and start your printing. This is something that I love. I print big, and sending it out, even to a service bureau run by most schools will cost $50-$70 for a 40″x50″ print and upwards of $200-250 if sent to a professional lab. But with your own paper and the 9800 at your disposal, 40″x50″ prints run you around $5. Yes, $5.

Just one of the many, many perks of the program.