February 9, 2012


Most of you know that I teach photography half time at Rocky Mountain College, where I am also the staff photographer. What keeps me happy with my job is the ability to spend time teaching, both art majors and non-majors, photography. I teach 200/300/400 level courses and each course brings a new group of students and challenges, but we all know that challenges bring opportunity.

Last semester I instructed an ART247 course titled Digital Nature Photography, although it is a 200 level course that tends to fill with non-majors it is my favorite course to teach. The subject matter is what I spend most of my free time doing, and Albert Einstein said it best “If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.” Teaching what I love most to people who may be learning how to use a camera for the first time is challenging, but extremely rewarding. Last semester I structured the class a little different than I had in the past, and it felt as though I was not getting my message through to the students. It was a great surprise when the students made their final presentations of the semester's images and they had great works to show, and an excellent understanding of what/how they made the works. It was even more affirming when I received my course evaluations from that class. The course averaged 4.7 "excellent course" and my average was a 4.5 "excellent teacher" (five is the top score) . Those numbers put a smile on my face, but what I found most rewarding is that two students (evaluations are anonymous) commented that, because of this course they found a new hobby, and for a class of non-majors that is all I could ever hope for.

I also instructed a 400 level travel photography course, but that can't compare ;)

I make myself read these quotes frequently, so that I can stay out of my students way and in doing so be the best "teacher" I know how to be.
  • "There are many teachers who could ruin you. Before you know it you could be a pale copy of this teacher or that teacher. You have to evolve on your own." - Berenice Abbott
  • "Experience is the best teacher of all. And for that, there are no guarantees that one will become an artist. Only the journey matters." - Harry Callahan
  • "I don't think there's any such thing as teaching people photography, other than influencing them a little. People have to be their own learners." - Imogen Cunningham
My Grandfather is who I consider to be my first and most influential photography teacher, he pointed me in a direction and said play, experience and learn. I have had countless other influences in my life as a photographer, but the best thing I ever learned was how to lean. I strive to point students in a direction, giving them the knowledge needed, so that I can and say play, experience and learn. What comes out at the end should be an individual, that has pieces of what I have shared incorporated into them, but an individual. My goal is that students love photography, always continue to learn and that they get a little bit better every time they bring the viewfinder to their eye.

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