Who should teach photography?

Started 10 months ago | Polls thread
Jeff_Donald
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Re: Teach who what about photography ?
In reply to Dennis, 10 months ago

Dennis wrote:

Hmmm ... so the tech guys know nothing about art and can only teach how to make boring images ... but you don't mention whether the artists know anything about the craft. Do I sense a bit of bias ?

I never claimed to be unbiased, just as none of the other recent polls were unbiased.

First off, if you take a look at Great Bustards photos, he's quite a good photographer; easily better than the majority of posters here who know less than him about about the technical details. (I can't comment on bobn2 or steen bay or others). In GB I see someone I look up to as both far more knowledgeable about the craft and far better at the art than I am. And I can't say that about anyone arguing against him. (I can think of a couple names of people who are arguing that some of the argument simply isn't necessary, but aren't arguing against him).

I'm not arguing against anyone and I'm sorry if I left that impression.

Second, I wouldn't say that any of those people (listed in your poll) would necessarily make good teachers; that takes an understanding of what the students already know, want to learn, and how best to communicate that.

I would, however, suggest that both artists and tech guys should supply the material, depending on whether the intent is to teach art, craft, or both.

People often like to quote Ansel Adams: "There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept." He was a guy who produced some pretty nice stuff; some claim he's overrated, but he'd probably prove to be inspirational to many students. He was also a serious techie who literally wrote the book on the craft.

I use that quote all the time in many of my classes. Yes, he was a techie, but he stated his photographic sojourn knowing next to nothing and created great art before he created technically correct negative and prints. In other words, he was creating great photos long before he and Fred Archer created the Zone System and before he wrote his books, Camera, Negative and Print.

On the other hand, I recommend Nick Kelsh's books ("How to photograph your baby", etc.) to new parents or friends who just want "better pictures" without learning photography. His approach is pretty formulaic (it assumes the reader is using a point & shoot): turn off the crummy on board flash & don't worry about noise, get close, don't take just one shot and so on.

That's some of the best advice I've seen posted recently.

1) Take more than one shot. It's not film and won't cost you anything to shoot the scene multiple ways.

2) Get closer to your subject. I love quotes and I'll use one here, "If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough." - Robert Capa

3) Don't worry about noise.  The techies have drilled in the concept of low noise = better images that many beginners lose great shots because of blur, caused by too low of ISO.

There's no one right approach to teaching photography and no one right person to teach it.

- Dennis

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