"Photography Teachers?" Revisited


Link Posted 20/01/2010 - 12:23
"Photography Teachers?" Revisited

I have recently noticed several advertisements of those that are “teaching” photography.  At a school of photography as a guest speaker I was asked what my thoughts were regarding the whole “I can teach you photography” thing. Well here goes. I don’t subscribe to that concept for many reasons. One is how to stunt the growth of a new student by teaching them rules about what is and what isn’t right for a starter.  Another is the often over used formulas that in most cases these “specialists” teach the naive student as gospel

I do however have no problem with a school that assists one in understanding technical issues or a school that deals with the historical and artistic aspects of photography. But a school that deals with issues such as cropping, lighting style etc…Well that’s where I put my foot down and say an unequivocal NO, Nein, Non.

I have had so many poor lost assistants whom I would rather not pinpoint specifically, that have no clue what so ever who they are. If they did come into a school of photography with the hopes of coming out an individual, well that notion was sucked out of them by the energy vampires. I’m not saying that all profs are frustrated unsuccessful photographers that couldn’t make it in their field. However from what I have seen and heard, one could not help but make that assumption.

I am saying that guest speakers, workshops and specialized subjects dealing with specific technical issues might be a reason to seek out advice or when a guest lecturer has come in to speak of his or her experiences, as I did at the Orleans School of Photography in France. Do your research. Read, experiment, take tons of photos inspire yourself and grow as a human. Build up your vocabulary in all disciplines and your life shall be richer as a result. It has been proven that the greater the vocabulary the richer ones life. Take a deep breath and do what comes naturally. If you get stuck creatively, take a short break.  If you need some technical advice, just ask questions.

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Link Posted 20/01/2010 - 15:24
Benjikan, I'm not a teacher, a professional photographer, or an artist. I am a perpetual student.

I value teachers who teach the craft of photography. In teaching the craft, there are rules. If you want a short depth-of-field there is a way to get it. It isn't magic. It can be taught and it can be learned.

There are also some general "rules of thumb" which I think should be learned and generall followed. When you choose to not follow the "rule" you should be aware you're doing so and have a reason. I would even accept a reason such as, "I'm not sure but it just feels better this way."

Beyond that, teachers can be more of a negative than a positive. I was looking at photos done by an acquaintance and they were all tilted. Her "teacher" had told her tilted photos were more interesting and artistic. I listened to a college professor explain that any interesting subject in a photo detracted from the "art". I read a two-paged typed explanation at an exhibit of why the photographer took the photos he did and why it was important.

For me, learning the craft is absolutely essential. I watched a friend painting with oils and explained that using thin paint over a thick layer that hadn't completely dried would inevitably cause the lighter coat to crack. If you want cracking, fine. If you don't, learn your craft. Another friends does scultures with no face. She has a wonderful explanation but the basic fact is she can't do faces. Learn your craft.

And, the craft can be limiting. There are ways you can express yourself in painting or graphic art, for example, that you can't do with photography.


Link Posted 20/01/2010 - 15:59
I was self taught, running a photography business, switching from film to digital when I chose to go to college to study photography.

My teacher was great, working pro and teacher. Learned alot from him.

Why would I scale back my workload to go to school?

Because I realized that everything I knew, as a self taught photographer, I had learned from a guy that started off knowing absolutely nothing...ME!

I've never met a person that couldn't teach me something...
Fired many shots. Didn't kill anything.


Link Posted 20/01/2010 - 18:43
I can totally relate to Bens comments, my photographic tutor was also a commercial photographer, we were taught the basic technical side of photography (most of which I knew) but we were also made to study both present day and past photographers work and even do a piece on our chosen photographer, I believe it was the latter that improved my photography.

Yes, we were taught the principals of composition but we were also told not to rely on them and to experiment, even now I still enter images into camera club competitions only for judges or other members to ask (nicely) what I was thinking of.
My Names Alan, and I'm a lensaholic.
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