So about twenty weeks ago I was approached by my friend James over at Classic Trends photography about a very interesting opportunity. In the past I have been known to teach workshops, give presentations, or guest speak places and James actually was one of the people that has had me out to do such things. The opportunity that he had to present to me was with Ivy Tech here in Indianapolis. They needed someone to teach a class one night a week, that was very fittingly named; “Photo 100: For Non Majors”. I was their guy.
(Nikon D3s, 1000ISO, Nikon 60mmF2.8N Macro. 1/250th@F5.6)
That’s them. Well sort of. That was a shot I took as an example of a portrait without having to actually see someone’s face. When you don’t have the face in there it could be anybody, and I feel as though in terms of a shot that encompasses a group of Photo100 students; symbolically it works just fine. The subject’s name is Michael from class and I shot this photo while we were all outside shooting trees and sky’s and things. Each class I made it a habit to have some sort of camera with me so as I could shoot examples, to demonstrate usage, or just to be able to flat out look things up when I needed a little nudge myself. Whether it was the Fuji X-Pro 1, the Canon 5D Mark II, the Nikon D3, D3s or D4… I always had something there. I varied what camera it was in the hopes that some of them would look a little deeper and realize that it wasn’t about what camera you used, but the way you took the pictures in the first place. I felt as though this was an important fact to grasp as some students came into the class with Point and shoots; and others came in with DSLR cameras.
(“Clover all Over” by Willa W.)
Overall the class was exactly as described by one student who unfortunately didn’t stay with us the entire semester. He described it as “Wonderfully Intense”, due to the nature of the technical, and sometimes wildly left field ways I found to explain things to the class as they might as well have been all rolled into one greasy ball of knowledge being passed around between everybody. Honestly I found the class refreshing, and it’s not because I was able to step back from the light modifiers, or the setups and just think about the process of snapping a picture. The class really made me slow down and think about the WHY to the picture taking or making. Why is the Aperture F2.8? Not the depth of field, but where did the number come from? Things like that. Really the class challenged me to think as much as I attempted to challenge them to think, and that’s really what made the class wonderful for me. Also keep in mind that we really never addressed constructed lighting more than using a reflector, or a white wall to bounce an on camera flash off of (if the camera was even capable of turning the flash away from straight away). The class was solely about the art and feeling of making a picture; as well as looking for light that was already there.
(“Rivera”, by Joe C)
Teaching a class like this is incredibly difficult because as many people would agree; photography is subjective. I may like something that an editor doesn’t. Or vice versa in fact. Sometimes you get things where nobody is happy, or where the project just isn’t going according to plan either on account of a subject, the weather or just a memory card that you forgot to clean off. So many of the students never cleaned off their memory cards out of fear they would lose their photos and I understand that fear, but I assured them that their computer was in fact a relatively safe stronghold to keep the treasures that they created with what is now an exceptionally complex piece of equipment known as a camera. By the end of the class, the students were without fear of putting the camera to their eyes and snapping away; as well as they were without fear of failure or of criticism (even though sometimes critique got pretty hairy when necessary in order to make them better in their ability to take photos of the subjects of their choosing.) For these students, the camera should no longer be as mysterious a device filled with crazy numbers that don’t follow the rules of math; but should now be a tool to an insight for others as to how they see the world.
(“Sun Setting on the Farm” by Crystal C.)
I was really pleased in the end with their final portfolios. Everybody made informed choices and edited the images to be very visually appealing which. In the end I can’t really think of anything better for a Non Majors class who in most honesty will probably to take photos for the fun of it as opposed to pursue a professional career out of it. I don’t have enough space in the blog to put up one from everybody, but the few that I’ve chosen should give you an idea as to how the class did. It’s a pretty good feeling to know that I have influenced at least a few people and how they view the world in their photography. Despite the fact that my old photo professor is probably rolling in his grave at the fact that I am responsible for shaping peoples minds; I’m looking forward to the possibility of doing so again sometime in the future. Speaking of being an influence in the future. It’s worth noting that I will now be one of the judges in the upcoming Roberts Camera Photography Contests. Read the rules, submit some work, possibly win! Either way, there will be a critique of the 5 top images after each contest to talk about where things could have been done better, or worse. Sounds like a solid learning experience right? I think so. I’m going to learn a lot….. More Soon.