Sopockie Szkola Fotografii-WFH is located in Sopot. The two year, four semester photography school boasts a fully equipped dark room, a computer lab, a large, modern studio, and a small but growing library. The school's two director's Jerzy Hejber and Tomasz Maryks employ and work with several others to provide what they call a "multi-stage system of education."
Their system has three stages, the first spanning semester one and two of the program. During this stage students gain the basic theoretical and practical foundations for a career in photography. In the second stage, during the third semester, students build off of what they learned in stage one and, blended with high-skill, specialized lectures, gain intensive practice. The final stage takes place during the fourth and last semester. Here students attend graduate seminars and are required to produce a fourth semester thesis project in order to graduate.
Our first visit of the school, which was later in the evening, found the facilities quiet. The school is located in the mid to upper level of an apartment complex right off one of Sopot's busy streets. You must first ring a buzzer to be let in the building and then ascend several stair cases. Straight ahead, once the door is opened, lies a small room followed by a long hallway. In the room is a large desk for the school's secratery, Natalia Fereniec. Behind it is a smaller second desk and a large format Epson inkjet printer, used for digital prints.
The first door on the right once you enter the hallway brings you into the studios. From the ceiling hang soft boxes and strobes, all which can be maneuvered from a mounted system of rollers. The large, neutral-painted room can also take advantage of natural light from the many windows that remained covered upon our visit. The room has the ability to be sectioned off by a large sliding door and converted into two separate studios. Each of these two rooms also contains two backdrops stands, thus, at maximum capacity, making four studio workspaces.
Continuing down the hallway, the first door on the left provides entrance into a small lounge. Inside is a place to hang your coat, a small sink, and plenty of supplies for making coffee or tea. The second door gives access to a fully workable darkroom. Above the door is a light that is illuminated when someone is working in order to prevent any accidents from happening. The darkroom contains three enlargers as well as a large machine used for developing photographic paper. The third door to the left is the bathroom and the fourth is the computer lab and library. The final door holds the two director's offices.
The school had only recently made the move into the building that we visited. Though we never saw the old facilities, the current location was described as a big improvement. The small school was more than adequate for our uses and became a home away from home, a quiet refuge from the busy streets or rainy days in Sopot.
A look down the school's main hallway (standing from the director's office).
Two American students photographing the school's studio space.
American students taking advantage of the schools high-speed wireless.
Pawel Wyszomirski, an instructor at SSF-WFH, leads American students through a critique of images from a lighting workshop earlier that morning.
Jerzy Hejber shows a project he is working on after giving American visitors a brief tour of the school's facilities.