I Teach Photography. . .

I am an amateur photographer but I am a professional educator. I’ve taught English, history and philosophy for over thirty years. But this year I took on the task of teaching photography/media in a new program at the technical college in our town. And it has been a challenge. Today, I sent an email to my students, many of whom show promise and talent. If you’ll forgive the personal nature of this, I’m going to let you in I what I said to them:

I think that most of you know that teaching my afternoon classes has been a challenge. In fact, I concluded yesterday that it is one of the most challenging things I have ever done. Four weeks ago, as I drove home from work on a Thursday, I was thinking that “I used to enjoy photography until I started to teach it.”

Why would I think this? The answer lies in that fact that for quite a few years, what I know about photography has best been revealed in my photos. My pictures are often my voice; but they can’t really teach. So the challenge for me is figuring out how to translate what I have practiced and learned for many years into something that makes sense to enthusiasts like you.

Here’s what I know:

Photography isn’t a class. It isn’t an assignment. And it isn’t a job. For me, when I do photography right, it is transcendent: I lose track of time, and space and self. When I am truly engaged in photography, I am engaged in a silent conversation with my subject. The flowers and the leaves and the landscape talk to me and translating this process into something that makes sense to others is a supreme challenge.

I also know this:

You have done good work and you have talent, skills and curiosity that are worthy of my very best efforts. And you will continue to get that next semester.

Thanks for choosing the Photo/Media option and thanks for choosing LATI. We have a lot to learn and I feel privileged to be in a position to help.

Thank you, APAD readers, for taking the time to view my posts from time to time. If no one visited my blog, it would still be a good for me to do. But that fact that on any given day 100 to 200 people stop by provides a good motivation for finding something to post every day.

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  1. I took my first photography class from Gary Witcher at Mt. Marty/Harmony Hill. He did teach through his photographs. When he talked about framing, he showed 25 photos using different framing ideas. When he talked about where the eye looks and moves within the photo he did it with examples. Now that I really think about it, it may have been one of the after-school classes for TAG kids eons ago. My point is it was through seeing his photos I understood what he was trying to get across. It stuck with me all these many years later as I appreciate your photos and attempt to use his guidelines in my own feeble photographic attempts. Don’t sell yourself short, Scott!

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