Boost Your Photography Skills with Our New Classes!

The art world can be intimidating. For the first two years of high school, I refused to pick up a camera because I didn’t know any technical terms or own professional equipment (and I was convinced that I would drop any camera I came into contact with).

Finally, with the quote “Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game” from Hillary Duff’s Cinderella Story ringing in my ears, I ignored my fear and enrolled in photography class. Man! am I glad I did that.

If you are looking for a way to branch out of your typical routine and gain some knowledge about photography, I highly suggest one of these four classes!

Meet the Flower City Arts Center
Thursday Sept. 19 & Monday Oct. 28, 4-5pm

If you have never taken a class at Flower City, this is the perfect place to start! This free tour will give you an insight into the facilities and history of Flower City Arts Center. Chat with our staff and find the right class for you!

Click here to learn more or register!

Flirting with Photography
Wednesdays 6:30-8:30pm, Sept. 18-Nov. 6

Get a taste of all things photography in this eight day class! Students will have projects in the Community Darkroom, Silver Den, Lighting Studio, and Digital Art Studio. The best part? No prior experience necessary! This is an ideal class for those looking to “get their feet wet” in the world of photography.

Click here to learn more or register!

Looking at Photographs
Thursdays 6:30-8:30pm, Sept. 19-Sept. 28 & one Saturday field-trip to the George Eastman Museum 

Want to know what makes a photo great? This class will cover both journalistic and art photos from daguerreotype to digital. You will learn to understand what elements make a photo work and how to apply that to your own photography. Students will share photographs they love and give and get feedback in a final peer-review session. This is a great class for collectors, photographers or those hoping to gain a better understanding of the thought that goes into photography.

Click here to learn more or to register!

Basic Studio Lighting
Mondays 6:30-8:30pm, Sept. 3-Oct. 28


If you are looking to improve your lighting skills this is the class for you! Instruction will include various techniques in the use of the studio’s White Lightning strobes in multiple lighting configurations, as well as other equipment such as an incident/flash meter, softboxes, umbrellas, and various other attachment and light modifiers.

Click here to learn more or to register!


I hope you found this post helpful in finding some new classes to experiment with! If these don’t strike your fancy, I encourage you to check our our full fall class list.

Beer + Film

Have you ever wondered what happens when you take film and process it in beer? I had never thought about it until I stumbled across an article describing the process a little over a month ago. So what better way to find out what happens then to do it!

Photo Credit: Marianna Pojman

On March 15 Juliana Muniz, and myself ran a workshop with 5 other photographers to see the results for ourselves. Everyone shot a roll or two of Black & White 400 iso film including Kodak Tri-X, T-Max, and Ilford HP5.

Click here for the recipe.

Photo Credit: Marianna Pojman

We decided to process together as a group using cans of Guinness, the same 15 minute developing time and 85 degrees fahrenheit chemistry for all our rolls of film. We had pretty decent results, everyone had images! Everyones negatives were dense, but printable, with the Tri-X coming out the best.

Below is an example of a contact sheet from a roll of Tri-X and a print made from the boozy negative.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the workshop! Can’t wait to try this again with some different beers, or maybe a cider. If you would like to see more prints made from our Beer + Film experiment come check out a Darkroom Club meeting, the next one is April 27.

Photo Credit: Sean Butler
Photo Credit: Sean Butler








PS: For anyone planning to try out this recipe, make sure the beer is 85 degrees fahrenheit before adding in the washing soda, or you’ll have solid clumps in your beer.

Failure is Not an Option

Bad News.


I sent my 4×5 Portra 160 film and one roll of Portra 400 120mm film from the last three studio sessions I have done with the hopeful anticipation of getting back some beautiful images. I was going to take these large format film sheets and make composite images for my final prints for my show opening April 6th.


One-for-one, the 4×5’s were unexposed. The questions that arise here are:



We used the meter and set up the lighting. Yes, the lens cap was off,. Yes, slides had been removed. We even used my digital camera to set our exposure and aperture to get a good idea of out lighting situation. Likely, they’d be a little underexposed, but since I’d be scanning and digitally printing I had some room for error. I could always bring up the exposure in photoshop.

Louis Chavez in the Studio


But something, somewhere, at some point, got lost in translation.


Edgar at Praus couldn’t figure why. Megan Charland promised it would drive her mad until she figured out what could have happened; she’s reaching out to fellow film heads to get some answers. Louis Chavez was incredulous.


Personally, I had to take a moment to just allow the disappointment to sink in. There is heartbreak here. It’s sort of the worst case scenario when it comes to film development; your film doesn’t turn out or is ruined at some point in the development process.


I watched. I breathed. I bathed.


Then, I made dinner. And in the middle of making dinner, surrounded by potential turmoil and the churning of a New Moon in Pisces, Mercury stationing Retrograde and this unfortunate failure, I had a resolve.


This is a test. A test of my resilience, my creative perspective. A test of surrender, problem solving and determination. I wasn’t gonna get caught up in a failure spiral. Instead, I was going to be a f*$king bad a$$ and turn this all into creative potential immediately.


I wrote a blog post for my Creative Cycles Mentorship page (here). And I decided to focus on what WAS working and what I had to work with.

Set Design for “The High Priestess”


Good News.


The 120mm film that Louis Chavez shot for me turned out great. I have also used my digital camera as a back up in every one of my sessions to ensure there was some form of an image to work with. You know, just in case the film sucked or turned out poorly.


I have time, resources and community support to work my final images into something beautiful, profound and important. I have time after my show to reshoot in film if I so desire (which I do).


My resolve was to understand and accept that a failure within a process is not a reflection of my identity. I failed, but I am not a failure. The failure is an opportunity to learn, grow and develop my character, my creative ingenuity and my problem-solving skills.


This failure gives me an opportunity to ask the images what they want and need from me and how I can be in service to their final expression rather than take a controlling and perfectionist driven position.


Surrender, allow flow.


My resolve was to focus on what WAS working and what I DID have rather than drowned in the despair of what wasn’t available and what didn’t turn out.


Isn’t that such an important lesson for life situations?! True creative mastery and flow evolve from focusing on what is right in front of you, giving attention to what is working and allow THAT to drive you forward into the next stage of success.

Community and Collaboration Part 2

Since I wrote my last post, and with my lecture series coming up in 2019, I’ve been thinking more and more about Community in the context of a healthy art practice.


For me, it can be really easy to isolate artistically. I struggle with some common self-sabotaging creative blocks like:


“Someone else has already done this, what’s the point of my doing it?”

“Someone will steal my ideas or get credit for my labor/ideas.”

“My ideas aren’t really important, good, relevant, etc…”


These, among a litany of other personal and collective messages about creativity and artists, can really get in the way of a successful creative life. Community, but especially the COLLABORATION that emerges from Creative Community, is a way to break down barriers to art making.


Over the next three posts, I will be sharing encounters I have had over the last couple of weeks that emphasize the importance of community and collaboration as an artist. This week, we’ll start with Louis.


Louis Chavez


Photo of Louis Chavez by Megan May, iphone

I met Louis through a friend of a friend. Louis Chavez is a Southern California transplant like me. They like to say, “We’re both California Girls.”


We both escaped our dessert hometowns to find healing and queer community in the cool moist air of the Northwest Coast. We’re ‘85 babies. We both love film photography. And, for now, we both reside in Rochester NY. Obviously, a collaborative duo destined in the stars.


Louis has encountered a lot of generosity as they have developed their photography practice. Friends, fellow photographers, willing to lend film, cameras and other resources in order that learning and creative development were possible.

Photo of Megan May by Louis Chavez, Film, Kodak Portra


Louis has taken this kindness and paid it forward with me. They’ve been willing to lend me film as well as their time and knowledge so I could understand my love of large format film photography better.


We’ve been meeting weekly for the past couple of months now. I feel very comfortable with Louis and during our last session, I started to get into an element of my performance practice that I usually only express when alone. I love the images he captured of my weird expression experiment.

Photo of Performance by Megan May photograph by Louis Chavez, Film, 120mm


My first two packs of 4” x  5” Kodak Film came in the mail this week (Ektar and Portra if you were wondering).


I’ll be moving much of my photographic practice into large format and I couldn’t be more excited. This wouldn’t be possible were it not for the collaboration and generosity with my friend Louis.


My ideas and my expression are important to Louis. He finds me inspiring and says so. His knowledge, patience, and support helps me feel confident and inspired too. When we work together we talk, laugh and create art. This collaborative relationship provides me with an experience to push back against of my limiting beliefs about my work and its importance. It is a very valuable bond.

I’ll be teaching a Lecture Series in the winter titled, “The Art of Being an Artist.” Lectures will take place on the third Thursday of the month January-March. In January my lecture will focus on the role of community and collaboration in my life as an artist. Look out for a full schedule of my lectures and classes and FCAC in the winter schedule!

follow Louis Chavez @llouischavezz &

Get to Know Your Instructor: Jon Merritt

Jonathan Merritt (Jon) is an instructor here in the Photography and Digital Arts Department. He mainly teaches darkroom classes such as Intermediate Black and White Photography, Cyanotype, and Kallitype.

Tannic Cyanotype behind glass, 2016

What is your favorite subject matter to cover in your classes?

  •  For my black and white film/Darkroom courses I love teaching Split Grade printing. I think it’s a fantastic problem solver for students, encouraging them to approach their prints tonally rather than “is it too bright/is it too dark.” For my alternative process classes, I think I’m particularly a fan of toning Cyanotypes. It’s exciting seeing how far you can push the color from blue.

What would you consider to be the most important thing for students to do in order to reach their full potential in your class?

  • For all my classes I’d say it’s the determination to make one more print. Because there’s often more labor involved with wet printing process, it can seem frustrating when you’re so close to your “best” print, but there’s just one thing you still need to do to make it shine. I think this determination develops as you bond with the process, but I’m here to help too.

Utah, August 2017 (Silver Gelatin Print)

What is your favorite piece of equipment?

  •  Light sensitive paper! You don’t need a camera to make great work.

What is your favorite thing about Flower City Arts Center?

  • The Center has such a great vibe. Its facilities allow for privacy and for camaraderie. That’s a tough feel to pull off. Dan’s room is the best Darkroom I’ve ever used, too.

Closeup detail of a Deep Tannic Cyanotype, 2017

Do you have a catchphrase? If not, what would you make it if you had to choose one? Why?

  •  I don’t, but if I did it would probably be “walk and explore.” Corny I know, but I think one of the best things about photography is that it encourages you to explore areas you wouldn’t otherwise. Photography (hopefully) breaks the routine of job > home-and-done-for-the-day.

If you had to choose a television/ movie universe to live in, which one would it be?

  • I would love to live in a Hayao Miyazaki film. Think Spirited Away or maybe Porco Rosso. So colorful and full of mystery. I could get lost there.

Five Interesting Summer Classes

Go Retro With Film!

Learn the building blocks of photography in this introductory class.  Discover how light interacts with a camera, and take great photos while you do it. For more info & to register >>

Intermediate B&W Photography 

If you’ve already learned the basics of film, come back for more. Hone your skills in the dark room and learn new processes to take your images to the next level. For more info & to register >>

Intro DSLR Photography 

Take control of your camera! Turn off auto and learn what your camera can really do for you. For more info & to register >>

Basic Lighting Studio

In need of a professional portrait or just want to spruce up your Instagram? Then learn the basics of lighting to amp up your pictures. For more info & to register >> 

Intro To Photoshop

Now that you have all of these images, learn how to edit them like a pro in Photoshop. Learn how to navigate and use the tools in Photoshop to perfect your photos. For more info & to register >>