For 32 years, teacher has developed his students' love of photography


October 14, 2002|By Kathy Bergren Smith | Kathy Bergren Smith,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

IT'S 7:30 on a Monday night; Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts is a beehive of activity. Tiny ballerinas twirl; strains of the Annapolis Chorale boom through the halls and parents sip coffee in the Cafe Beaux Artes.

In Room 108, magic is taking place. Here in the dark, Dick Bond is teaching students in a beginner's photography class how to develop their first black-and-white photographs.

First there is the lecture - part science class, part improvisational theater - in which Bond tells his dozen or so students that they really should try developing their own film. He passes out an instruction sheet and says, "You will see that developing film is about as complicated as making pancakes with Bisquick."

After a discussion of how light enters the camera and hits the film from a physics perspective, it's into the darkroom.

Each student has negatives in hand. They have done their homework from the previous class, which was to shoot a roll of film of an everyday object and have it developed. Bond has given this same assignment to his beginner students for the past 32 years.

The first picture that anyone who takes a class from Bond develops is not of a pet or a girlfriend but of a food item. Bond will not divulge which food item he assigns for fear that aspiring students will practice ahead of time. But based on his years of teaching he estimates he has seen about 40,000 pictures of this object.

"I will never forget that first class," said Celia Pearson of Annapolis. "I hold Dick Bond responsible for my becoming a professional photographer." Pearson is a noted commercial and fine-art photographer whose work appears in national magazines such as Metropolitan Home and Coastal Living. "He is an exceptional teacher."

Pearson took her first photo class with Bond in 1972 when she had a "mild interest" in photography. His impact upon her was profound.

This summer, as Pearson helped a young artist discover photography through an internship, she required Katherine Sherman, a senior at St. John's College, to attend Bond's "Introduction to Black-and-White Photography" class.

Sherman found that Bond's background in physics and his ability to communicate the scientific aspect of photography made his classes intellectually fascinating. "You can't ask him a question he doesn't have the answer to," she said.

Bond's students are a diverse group. College students such as Sherman and retired people such as Joan Scott of Edgewater are equally enthralled. Scott is taking the class for a second time. "He is just an awesome teacher," Scott said.

The secret for Bond, like so many great teachers, is that he sees each class as an opportunity for him to learn from his students.

"It's a dialogue. ... One of these years, that first night of the first class I will get it right," said Bond. And then there is his sheer love of teaching. One thing that comes up in any student's description of Bond as a teacher is that he is "enthusiastic." Bond enjoys himself during classes so much so, he says, "It's a good thing they pay me to do this, otherwise I'd have to pay them."

Dianne Odell, a West River artist and architect, said that Bond's classes are a resource usually found only in big-city art schools. "His depth of knowledge is so great that no matter what path you wish to follow, he will gladly take you there," she said.

The magic of seeing a photograph develop in the tray under a red light is something no digital camera can begin to approximate.

Bond's commitment to the art of traditional photography and his love of sharing that magic is what motivates him. "When I stop learning, I will stop teaching," he said.

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