Who should teach photography?

Started Sep 26, 2013 | Polls
Jeff_Donald
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Who should teach photography?
Sep 26, 2013
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POLL
Photography should be taught by craftsmen, so that students can learn all the correct definitions and theory, then the students will be able to take technically correct but boring images.
9.8% 8  votes
Photography should be taught by artists and teachers that can inspire and motivate students to create visually stimulating images that reach an audience and evoke an emotion.
34.1% 28  votes
Photography should be taught by 8 year olds on YouTube. They are best equipped to communicate the technical aspects of the camera and photography as a craft, so that grown men on photography forums can get started with their new hobby.
15.9% 13  votes
None of the above. Feel free to explain, or not.
40.2% 33  votes
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Jim Cassatt
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Re: Who should teach photography?
In reply to Jeff_Donald, Sep 26, 2013

Photography is very much a left brain right brain activity.  Great photographers are equally at home with the technical and artistic sides.  They are the ones who should be teaching photography.

Having said this, most of use (myself especially) would benefit from art courses.

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steelhead3
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Re: Who should teach photography?
In reply to Jeff_Donald, Sep 26, 2013

Bob2 should teach so no lies are taught by his definition.

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Paphios
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Re: Who should teach photography?
In reply to Jeff_Donald, Sep 26, 2013

Photography should be taught by those without a personal agenda so that artistic decisions are a part of personal expression.

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Beach Bum
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Not the overly technical guys...
In reply to Jeff_Donald, Sep 26, 2013

As much as it pains me to say it, it shouldn't be the guys with all the formulas, graphs, charts, etc.

All of that has more to do with picking a camera than taking a picture.

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Great Bustard
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Might not...
In reply to Beach Bum, Sep 26, 2013

Beach Bum wrote:

As much as it pains me to say it, it shouldn't be the guys with all the formulas, graphs, charts, etc.

All of that has more to do with picking a camera than taking a picture.

...some of the "guys with all the formulas, graphs, charts, etc." also have some knowledge about the artistic side of photography?  Why do so many assume the two are mutually exclusive?

I'm thinking the best person for the job is the person who is best able to communicate the ideas of both the artistic and the technical to students who are there to learn.

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Mike_PEAT
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Good post!
In reply to Jeff_Donald, Sep 26, 2013

With all the automatic features these days you can get away with only B, although I started with A.

The question is, after starting with A or B, do you grow as a photographer and advance your technique with the other choice.

As for choice C, whenever I've clicked on a tutorial from anyone under 15, 99% of the time they either get it wrong, or they don't have the experience to explain things properly.

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ilta
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Re: Who should teach photography?
In reply to Jeff_Donald, Sep 26, 2013

Talk about loaded survey responses. Is your point to actually do a poll, or seek confirmation for what you already believe?

And honestly, I think photography, if it's a class, should be taught by craftsmen, with a big headline at the end that is "THESE ARE THE RULES, BUT YOU CAN BREAK THEM ONCE YOU'VE MASTERED THEM. NOW GO AND MAKE ART."

The art will take care of itself. The technical know-how, not so much.

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Detail Man
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Re: Who should teach photography ?
In reply to Jeff_Donald, Sep 26, 2013

The (not unimportant) intangibles of artisitic vision/talent aside, in order to make what seems like a majority of readers happy, probably the least intelligent and knowledgeable candidates.

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Dennis
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Teach who what about photography ?
In reply to Jeff_Donald, Sep 26, 2013

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 ?

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).

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.

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.

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

- Dennis

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Dennis
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Art v. craft
In reply to Dennis, Sep 26, 2013

I would add, though, that if you look at most "how to" books, they all focus on the technical and gloss over the art (rule of thirds, leading lines).  You can learn the technical stuff in short order and master it quickly (if you spend enough time practicing).  Art is a lot harder to teach; some consider it a lifelong pursuit.

- Dennis

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Richard
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Those who can do, those that can't teach.
In reply to Jeff_Donald, Sep 26, 2013

Doesn't really matter. Photography is not rocket science. I have seen autistic people.. I mean artistic people who can barely read directions product wonderful pictures from film cameras. They do, because they can. It is more important to have an eye FOR photography than an eye on photographic equipment

Jeff_Donald wrote:

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Beachcomber Joe
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Re: Might not...
In reply to Great Bustard, Sep 26, 2013

Great Bustard wrote:

...some of the "guys with all the formulas, graphs, charts, etc." also have some knowledge about the artistic side of photography? Why do so many assume the two are mutually exclusive?

They are not. Consistently making good images requires mastery of the craft and the art.

I'm thinking the best person for the job is the person who is best able to communicate the ideas of both the artistic and the technical to students who are there to learn.

Unfortunately those kinds of instructors are difficult to find. My experience is that the artistic types tend to be not well grounded in the technical aspects.  The technical geeks tend to have an inability to communicate in simple, clear language. A skill which is mandatory for successfully getting concepts across to students.

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Promit
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Re: Who should teach photography?
In reply to Jeff_Donald, Sep 26, 2013

It is possible to troll forums via polls. Exhibit A: this thread. Nice work.

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ZodiacPhoto
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Somebody who can make the horse drink
In reply to Jeff_Donald, Sep 26, 2013

"You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink" - wrong!

It is possible to teach composition, lighting, exposure :), studio techniques, etc. Give your students all the knowledge and information they may need - but is it enough? It all accomplishes the easy part of the task - leading the horse to water.

The real teacher of any artistic discipline should, first and foremost, inspire, kindle the passion to create, show the pass to self-expression. Don't make the horse drink - make it thirsty instead! Photography should be about letting others see the world through your eyes.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with knowing the technical side of the art. There are those frustrating moments when you have a rare opportunity to take a "once-in-a-lifetime" photo just to find out later that that photo is ruined by poor technique - OOF, motion blur, noise, etc.

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Beach Bum
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Craftsmen vs. artists...
In reply to Great Bustard, Sep 26, 2013

Great Bustard wrote:

Beach Bum wrote:

As much as it pains me to say it, it shouldn't be the guys with all the formulas, graphs, charts, etc.

All of that has more to do with picking a camera than taking a picture.

...some of the "guys with all the formulas, graphs, charts, etc." also have some knowledge about the artistic side of photography? Why do so many assume the two are mutually exclusive?

I'm thinking the best person for the job is the person who is best able to communicate the ideas of both the artistic and the technical to students who are there to learn.

Maybe we should have a contests, the self-identified craftsmen/technical guys vs the artists. I know I'd route for the former.

BTW, I'm a formulas, graphs, charts guy myself, to the nth degree. I just don't know how well I would do at teaching an artistic pursuit. I'm a purely hard science guy, so I know how tough it is to relate to, how should I put it, the 99% who aren't scientifically inclined.

p.s. Is this jump on BB day or something?

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Great Bustard
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Re: Craftsmen vs. artists...
In reply to Beach Bum, Sep 26, 2013

Beach Bum wrote:

Great Bustard wrote:

Beach Bum wrote:

As much as it pains me to say it, it shouldn't be the guys with all the formulas, graphs, charts, etc.

All of that has more to do with picking a camera than taking a picture.

...some of the "guys with all the formulas, graphs, charts, etc." also have some knowledge about the artistic side of photography? Why do so many assume the two are mutually exclusive?

I'm thinking the best person for the job is the person who is best able to communicate the ideas of both the artistic and the technical to students who are there to learn.

Maybe we should have a contests, the self-identified craftsmen/technical guys vs the artists. I know I'd route for the former.

Again, you presume the two to be mutually exclusive.  Do you mean to have a contest between artistically challenged technically competent photographer and technically incompetent artists?  What would be the point?

BTW, I'm a formulas, graphs, charts guy myself, to the nth degree. I just don't know how well I would do at teaching an artistic pursuit. I'm a purely hard science guy, so I know how tough it is to relate to, how should I put it, the 99% who aren't scientifically inclined.

Let's see if I can't make my position crystal clear.  I take a brilliant photo at 50mm f/2.8 1/100 ISO 400 on FF with a prime.  If I have instead taken that photo, which we have agreed was brilliant, at 25mm f/5.6 1/200 ISO 3200 on mFT with a zoom, would my photo be any less brilliant?

p.s. Is this jump on BB day or something?

Was that today?  Dammit!  Someone should have told me -- I could have gotten a few more kicks in!

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MoreorLess
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Re: Might not...
In reply to Great Bustard, Sep 26, 2013

Great Bustard wrote:

Beach Bum wrote:

As much as it pains me to say it, it shouldn't be the guys with all the formulas, graphs, charts, etc.

All of that has more to do with picking a camera than taking a picture.

...some of the "guys with all the formulas, graphs, charts, etc." also have some knowledge about the artistic side of photography? Why do so many assume the two are mutually exclusive?

I'm thinking the best person for the job is the person who is best able to communicate the ideas of both the artistic and the technical to students who are there to learn.

I'd argue that as far as photography forums that's often(not always of course) not those who like to post excessive "formulas, graphs, charts".

Every forum seems to have a few of these guys who constantly butt heads on extremely indepth technical details in threads originally started by a beginner who'se question they've long since forgotten. Even when they do actually answer beginners questions there answers tend to be unhelpfully long winded because they fear a "rival" will challenge them if they offer any forum of simplified answer tailored to the knowledge of the beginner.

Equally while its obviously true that technical knowledge doesn't preclude artistic ability its also true that the latter doesn't automatically justify the need for all of the former. Its perfectly possible for a good photographer to pickup and debate knowledge that's not helpful to his own or others photography.

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Detail Man
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Might not be very educational (outside of their own limited scenarios) ...
In reply to MoreorLess, Sep 26, 2013

MoreorLess wrote:

Great Bustard wrote:

Beach Bum wrote:

As much as it pains me to say it, it shouldn't be the guys with all the formulas, graphs, charts, etc.

All of that has more to do with picking a camera than taking a picture.

...some of the "guys with all the formulas, graphs, charts, etc." also have some knowledge about the artistic side of photography? Why do so many assume the two are mutually exclusive?

I'm thinking the best person for the job is the person who is best able to communicate the ideas of both the artistic and the technical to students who are there to learn.

I'd argue that as far as photography forums that's often(not always of course) not those who like to post excessive "formulas, graphs, charts".

Always amusing when people use the term "excessive" as if such determinations were some globally accepted and universally obvious objective standard. We live in an age where folks throw around terms like "misuse", "abuse", and "addiction" as strategic perjoratives in order to question the "soundness of mind" of others. Yet, it is the self-appointed "nannies" who are the sickest.

Every forum seems to have a few of these guys who constantly butt heads on extremely indepth technical details in threads originally started by a beginner who'se question they've long since forgotten. Even when they do actually answer beginners questions there answers tend to be unhelpfully long winded because they fear a "rival" will challenge them if they offer any forum of simplified answer tailored to the knowledge of the beginner.

Seems no common denominator in terms of complexity quite low enough to "please everyone". The desire to understand technical subjects via tasty little painless crumpets is endemic.

The greater our knowledge increases, the greater our ignorance unfolds.
- John F. Kennedy

Equally while its obviously true that technical knowledge doesn't preclude artistic ability its also true that the latter doesn't automatically justify the need for all of the former. Its perfectly possible for a good photographer to pickup and debate knowledge that's not helpful to his own or others photography.

People who can explain the "hows" (control-settings, etc.) of what they do without themselves understanding the underlying "whys" relating to what they do tend to be lost outside of their own particular areas of practiced applications. Seems to me like a real limitation.

DM ...

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Great Bustard
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Re: Might not...
In reply to MoreorLess, Sep 26, 2013

MoreorLess wrote:

Great Bustard wrote:

Beach Bum wrote:

As much as it pains me to say it, it shouldn't be the guys with all the formulas, graphs, charts, etc.

All of that has more to do with picking a camera than taking a picture.

...some of the "guys with all the formulas, graphs, charts, etc." also have some knowledge about the artistic side of photography? Why do so many assume the two are mutually exclusive?

I'm thinking the best person for the job is the person who is best able to communicate the ideas of both the artistic and the technical to students who are there to learn.

I'd argue that as far as photography forums that's often(not always of course) not those who like to post excessive "formulas, graphs, charts".

Every forum seems to have a few of these guys who constantly butt heads on extremely indepth technical details in threads originally started by a beginner who'se question they've long since forgotten. Even when they do actually answer beginners questions there answers tend to be unhelpfully long winded because they fear a "rival" will challenge them if they offer any forum of simplified answer tailored to the knowledge of the beginner.

Equally while its obviously true that technical knowledge doesn't preclude artistic ability its also true that the latter doesn't automatically justify the need for all of the former. Its perfectly possible for a good photographer to pickup and debate knowledge that's not helpful to his own or others photography.

Auto Mode (A), Auto ISO, OOC jpgs.  Be honest -- will that stop a great photo from being great?  Will knowing all the tech stuff help a photo that sucks become good?

However, I will say this -- it's hard to overestimate the impact of good PP skills.

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