Teaching Photography

I’ve just completed a morning’s teaching session. It was a free “Taster” for the Photography for Beginners Course I’m running in October. I try and teach in the Adult Learning Sector. I say “try” because I’m still not sure whether I’m a successful teacher or not. I’ve had some good feedback in the past so I guess I must be doing something reasonably right but it’s not for me to say whether I’m a good teacher or not. The proof of course is how my leaners learn, whether and how  they progress. Most of my learners come to my classes with a super duper digital camera they’ve bought but not quite plucked up the courage and confidence to get it out of Auto or Program Mode. The Manual is usually as thick as a brick and in several different languages and assumes that the new owner knows what an Aperture and a Shutter Speed is and the difference between white balance and ISO etc. That’s where I enter the room. I have to go right back to basics and I mean right back. Exactly how one explains Aperture and Shutter Speed and how they combine to create a “correct” exposure you’d think would be relatively straightforward but you’d be wrong. Thinking the best way to explain the concept  is not easy. Even the filling the bucket of water analogy can be problematic when one learner queries what about water pressure coming through the hose ?  Sometimes I think they’re doing it deliberately. I had one lady adamant there was no correct exposure meter indication when in manual mode despite me showing it her in the camera manual and suggesting she just needed to find the setting on her camera. As this was a taster session I was not even going near Exposure Compensation ! I think I’m patient. My learners have very different learning abilities and I still remember how long it took  me for the exposure penny to drop in my early twenties. I pretty much taught myself.  I don’t mind that they don’t at first get it because I’ll keep explaining it to them until they do in whatever simplified way I can. Keep it simple stupid. Cameras these days are not easy either. While they’ve become easier to get the perfectly exposed shot the multitude of function buttons all doing pretty much the same thing i.e. setting aperture and shutter (landscape, portrait. sport mode etc)  are confusing and intimidating to the unknowing. Many learners in their enthusiasm jump ahead of themselves and want to know what the thing is before I’ve explained the thing they need to know in order to understand the what the thing is, if you get my meaning. How do you explain how depth of field is achieved for example without first explaining the different combinations of aperture and shutter speed to create exposure and then going on to explain how the choice of aperture affects the depth of field and has to be considered in your choice. I’m not asking for help here folks. After three or four years I’ve pretty much got it sorted but it’s not always easy.

I finished off by showing some of my less challenging work. Trying to explain that photography is not just weddings and portraits is another eye opener for new learners.