Inspiration through Teaching Photography
For some time, I have been able to work my way around a camera no matter the make or model. This is a result of the first digital photography class taught at the Wickford Art Association back in 2008. Twelve students, twelve different cameras. Trying to teach exposure, focus and composition all in one day with many differing levels of experience made me feel like a camera salesman, not a teacher.
Fast forward…I’ve come a long way since then. Through seminars, experience and practice, I have honed my skill not only as a photographer, but as a photography instructor. As I created classes, I rediscovered the skills I had taken for granted, and found new applications for both the technical and compositional.
In the past year, I have wanted to offer more than basic and intermediate camera skills. To this end, I proposed more creative topics for classes, deepening my expressive understanding, and creating exercises for my students to explore in their own work. The Covid pandemic altered education models across the board, from public schools to community art associations. Zoom became the platform of choice. This enabled not only a verbal lecture explaining concepts, but also a visual presentation. In reality, each class required organization beyond the spontaneity of the physical classroom. The lectures were prepared and organized on a more immersive level. I found myself not only mining the images but spending hours in the field creating new examples to illustrate concepts. In experimenting more deeply with the craft of photography, I am teaching the same core concepts but more comprehensively in their application. My craft is merging with my vision.
Student work form July's 'Zooming Down the Road'
In sharing this wealth of new information, I am inspired by the images and enthusiasm produced by my students. This has resulted in a profound impact on my own work. The give and take in the online classroom expands the material in ways I have not considered before. Through the exploration of metaphor, simplicity and the understanding of expressive work as self portrait, I have felt an authenticity in my images as never before.
I have also benefitted from taking a project photography class with Laurie Klein. In an intensive three-week course, I explored my fascination with traditional farm architecture with the camera, inspired writing and critique. I was encouraged to return to the same sites again and again, resulting in deeper seeing and connection through emotion and metaphor. I learned that in printing images, being able to shuffle and sequence physical prints, creates consistencies not necessarily visible in the folders we keep on our computers.
The portfolio created is visible on my website.
We are always learning as long as we are open to possibilities. In this little corner of the globe, I am planting seeds in my students for not only further skill development, but also nurturing the self-expressive outlet of creativity. This gratification, the joy of passing skills with enthusiasm and experiences, fuels my desire to expand my knowledge so as to be able to offer more in the future.