The Lion's Roar

From Darkroom to Classroom: Mrs. Savidge

Jessica Rech '16, Staff Writer

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It was her father’s darkroom that first brought Mrs. Savidge into the world of photography. It lay close in the basement of her childhood home, and soon became a favorite spot within the house. She began working in the darkroom with her father as soon as she was old enough, delighted to help in the developing and printing process and learn how to become as fine a photographer as her father.

Growing up in a household full of the influences from her artist and musician parents, Mrs. Savidge naturally followed in her family’s footsteps. As well as finding a passion in photography, Mrs. Savidge also has a love for singing and playing instruments. She quickly found inspiration for her art when she studied painting restoration in Florence, Italy for two consecutive summers in the 1990s. She studied at the Studio Arts Center International (SACI), which took her all over Europe, everything from Portugal, to Poland, to Spain, and even to North Africa. “The great thing about Europe,” she said, “is if you backpack or just hop on a train, you can go to another country.” Each country is a whole new place, with a new culture, and “there’s such a rich history of art; and it’s everywhere.” And when one can go from country to country so easily, it can be “really eye opening how different cultures are.” In the U.S., where one can only go from state to state, “you just can’t get that here.”

Mrs. Savidge attended Moore College of Art and Design planning to make a career out of the love she has had for photography for most of her life. However, the art certification program at Moore did not begin until the year after Mrs. Savidge’s sophomore year. Instead, she tried teaching, wondering if sharing her love for photography would be something that interested her. The decision was apparently just what she needed, for she is now in her seventeenth year teaching film photography at Cherry Hill West. “After my student teaching was over,” said Mrs. Savidge, “I actually decided to choose the field; because I ended up loving it…and having a passion for something and wanting to share it.”

Mrs. Savidge realizes that it is now unique to have a wet darkroom in a high school, and that Cherry Hill West is very fortunate to have one. In 2015, it is obvious that film photography is becoming a dying breed. Today, most people have a camera right in their cell phones. In a way, anyone can be a photographer; just snap a shot of one’s cell phone and upload it to the Internet. She believes that “we don’t want [film photography] to become a lost artform.” She also finds true value in film photography. Digital photography does have importance and benefits, but “I think a lot of it is hand printing,” Mrs. Savidge said. “I mean obviously it’s having an eye and printing something, but you’re capturing a moment.” Digital photography may follow the same steps, but “actually trying to make works of art- getting your hands involved – is creating something completely original, where on an computer you just hit print.” She hopes that her students will be able to take this away from her class and gain a sort of real world experience that will set them apart from other photographers.

However, photography is more than the printing process. “It is capturing the soul,” said Mrs. Savidge. She realizes that “there is a fine line between what is art and what is not in photography,” but she believes that photography is “capturing a moment and being able to relay that moment” through one’s own originality.

Now married and a mother of two, Mrs. Savidge feels as though she and her husband are passing down the artful legacies they grew up with to their children. Her daughter, at ten years old, has already taken an interest in photography, especially in DSLR’s and the underwater camera they own. Both her daughter and son also have shown great interest in music and dance; her daughter in the school’s choral and band groups, and her son already a marvelous dancer. These interests were something that Mrs. Savidge expected her children to have, for music and art “is a huge a huge part of [her and her husband’s] lives, so [they] expected it to be a part of their lives, too.”

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From Darkroom to Classroom: Mrs. Savidge