Teaching Photography

photo_chick

Knows a little about a lot of things, a lot about
Joined
Mar 1, 2007
Hey Photo board peeps!

It's been a while since I've posted here, but some of the most knowledgable photographers I've had the privilege of chatting with are on this board so I'm coming to you guys for advice. I'm teaching high school (graphic design and a media class so far) and we are adding a photography class. This is CTE, so it's focused on skills for working professionally and not photojournalism or fine art specifically. Although personally I think both of those have their place in the commercial photographer's skill set.

My question is what aspects of the craft and industry do you feel are important to include. I have my list, beginning with camera operation and studio lighting then somehow getting to working with clients (the if you actually want to make a good living you're not always going to shoot what you want aspect). But I have so much I want to teach I'm having trouble narrowing it down.

So what would you teach?
 

PollyannaMom

I was a click-clack champ!!
Joined
May 16, 2006
My question is what aspects of the craft and industry do you feel are important to include. I have my list, beginning with camera operation and studio lighting then somehow getting to working with clients (the if you actually want to make a good living you're not always going to shoot what you want aspect). But I have so much I want to teach I'm having trouble narrowing it down.

So what would you teach?
Wow, it is tough to narrow it down!!

Camera operation and studio lighting are both good topics, and I would do some practice shooting in natural light as well. (Outdoor pics seem to be popular with clients today, so talk about positioning, filtered light, "golden hour," etc.)

Ideally, if they' re considering going into the photography business, they'll be taking a business class, too. But if your school doesn't have one, at least talk to them about resources available for community ed, online classes, etc.

This is CTE, so it's focused on skills for working professionally and not photojournalism or fine art specifically. Although personally I think both of those have their place in the commercial photographer's skill set.
I do too! A lot of what makes photographers good is practice. And the practice comes from shooting what you love, so don't be afraid to let in a little art!

And I would actually include a lesson on the history of photography as well. I know time is short, but I find it fascinating, and it's good to know where your craft comes from.
 

havoc315

DIS Veteran
Joined
Aug 22, 2010
The real question is where are they starting from. I've been teaching community education "enthusiast" photography for a few years, and found people walk in with even less knowledge than I expected.
My son's high school offers photography, which he is taking in the Spring -- but they actually offer it in a progression of 4 classes. (Photography 1 - 4).
So the question is, where are they starting from, and how much can you get into a single semester. And have they taken any art classes as a prerequisite.
Ideally, the class would cover everything from composition techniques to technical aspects... natural and studio lighting... portrait posing.... On the business side, cultivating a social media presence, client outreach, business aspects including applicable intellectual property laws...
Far more than can probably fit into one class. So put another way, where are they starting from, and where do you want to get them to.
.. and if they are new to using a "real camera".... you may find a need to spend more than a day just on how to use autofocus.
 
  • seashoreCM

    All around nice guy.
    Joined
    Aug 25, 2001
    If you are going to emphasiize the business aspect, you will need to start with finding out what the customer or client wants in terms of final results. Then you need to know how to use your equipment to get those results.

    How to find out what the customer wants does not mean studying all of the possible answers in one course. So a single course does not have to include all the techniques needed for fine art (a client might want photographs to frame and hang on the wall) and also photojournalism (the client wants to be able to re-live his child's birthday party). Re-living a Disney vacation is the same as the immediate preceding although hardly any client is going to want to bring a photographer down to WDW in the manner as one would bring a nanny down. Addressing just one of the two subtopics mentioned here, together with camera techniques may be enough for a course that provides a start to finish path from newbie to professional photographer. Of course plenty of practice before actually hiring yourself out as a photographer.

    How to compose a picture might include bringing into class very good and not so good photographs and critiquing them.

    And getting the results out of the camera requires a good knowledge of using the camera (f/stops, ISO, zoom, etc.) and arranging camera angles and lighting. No cheating such as using easel and canvas and paint and brush instead of a camera.

    Additionsl courses will add more strings to your bow. How to work for a photography company in addition to getting gigs from families in town. Special effects using your camera as well as correct exposure and focus and lighting. Abstract artistic shots as well as great composition of scenes occurring in nature. Action sports photography as well as weddings and birthday parties.

    A simple and inexpensive camera is sufficient to take courses and learn the concepts needed to do all of the above. You may need a "good" camera to experiment with some of the more extreme conditions such as dim lighting and fast motion, and to get the final results that some clients may require.

    Some of the material you want to teach may fit well into an "art" course if you cannot get it all into a semester long "photography" course.
     
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    photo_chick

    Knows a little about a lot of things, a lot about
    Joined
    Mar 1, 2007
    Thanks so much for the responses!

    I totally agree on the business aspect. I have kids ask me all the time what to major in in college to become a photographer. I say major in business, minor in photography. The market is oversaturated with photographers right now and marketing and business are what make you stand out.

    I'm assuming they're coming in knowing nothing. I already teach a small photography unit in one of my media classes and I get maybe one who thinks they know something and it usually turns out to be very surface level.

    Next year we're adding Photo I. Then after that I'm hoping to add Photo II and later the practicum. I have to build the program up first.
     

    serenitynow

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 10, 2005
    You might want to think of offering specialized classes like “Portrait Photography” “Photography for ebay”, “Pet Photography”, “Maternity Photography”, “Social Media Photography”, etc.
     

    sweetpeama

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 30, 2013
    My 12 year old daughter is in her 2nd year of 4-H photography level 1 and just had one of their monthly county wide project meetings this past weekend. The kids which range from 1st year kids in level 1 to kids in levels 3 and 4 using everything from cell phones and ipads to high level cameras with multiple lenses spent the day shooting a small object of their choice in various lighting situations including using some light boxes the leader had on hand and brought along. They also talked about what they would like to try and do for future meetings and a really popular one was taking pictures of animals so the leader said that one of them will probally be letting them bring a pet or have a friend come along and bring a pet if they don't have one so they can take pictures but it would be later in the year so that chances are there is nice weather because dogs would have to be outside so as to not upset other small animals. Many of these kids also show poultry, rabbits, cavies (guinea pigs), cats, dogs, or other small animals in the program as well for another project they are taking. The leader has also already let the kids know that cattle, hogs, horses, ect photos will need to be done on their own time at home.
    For now I am going to share a photo taken last year by my daughter in her first year in level 1 that she entered in the fair as part of a black and white set of 2 photos (did not have to be a matched set) and got a best in class nomination.
     

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