Student Experience Blog

On Why Doing a Bio Class Helped My Photography

It has been a while since I posted. Mostly because it is my last term here at the College, and between doing 20 credits and working and doing time in the studio, I barely have time to smell the daisies.

But then, this post is exactly about my classes.

I have always been interested in the sciences, but my photographic work has been my main concern. This term, I am doing a class called Idaho Natural History with Professor Yensen. Now, a person may ask, what good would a class on the natural history of a state which I am going to leave in a couple of months for good do me, especially when I am an art major whose conception of history in the field starts the in 1820's, when a British boffin turned silver black?


The answer is very simple. Because this stuff is so cool. I get to go on field trips in the Owyhees, and look at rocks millions of years old, and understand how they were formed. I get to tramp around towns like Marsing, and see amongst the oldest human habitations in North America. (Arguably the oldest is by Jerome, called Wilson Butte Cave.) I get to look at climate maps and understand why Idaho is so godforsakenly windy all the time. I have always had an innate fascination with how things work, and how they came to be this way, which is why I got into the antiquarian photography racket, making my own film and what not. And if I get a class that lets me do that, that, my friend, is gravy.


I will even argue that, at least for me, this class has proven the value of PEAK. Now, I would never have taken this class otherwise. I don't care much for plants. Sure, they grow, they feed us, which is cute. I was a sustainability steward, and raised a garden. But in general, if I see a plain full of brush, I am not going to jump up with joy. I might take a picture of it, but won't revel in the flora's diversity, or lack thereof. But because of PEAK, I had to take this class, and it informed me so much in just 6 months, that I can't wait for the next class.


Seriously, think about it from my standpoint. I do a lot of landscape photography. Now, because of this class, I can actually explain the forms I capture. Instead of saying, “yeah man, those rocks were cool so I took a picture of them” (a line I have used before), I can actually explain what the rocks are. When were they formed. What makes them what they were. Clouds look real pretty too. I learned the basics of climatology in the class, so now I can actually identify the different types. El Nino, La Nina, I know what they are now. It's fantastic.


And I think that is all PEAK is about. College is all about knowing stuff. You pay money so that you can learn stuff and intimately know it. PEAK just makes you know stuff in a broad swath and hopefully, inform what you really care about, in different ways.  


- Rahul Sharma

Rahul is a senior art major from Jammu, India.