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Re:[teacherartexchange] New Photography Teacher

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From: Richard Gross (ralight_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Thu Mar 20 2008 - 19:47:20 PDT


Hi Pat,

I have a lot to say on the subject youre bringing up.
 I have been a commercial photographer for 25 years.
I am mid-life career change teacher. I am a
photographer who teaches photography. I have taught
at the college and university level and now teach at
the high school level.

A piece of advice Id like to start off with is that
the approach to photography and its being taught is
all about a matter of style, personal approach and
opinion. You know what they say about opinions
Opinions are like belly buttons. Everyone has one.

I detest the description of wet photography. I
prefer to call it conventional photography as
opposed to digital photography. In teaching
conventional photography I tell my students about 85%
of convention photography will translate to digital
photography very well. Whether its photography from
the 1800s, 1900s or 2000s the basic principles of
design and composition still apply along with much of
the vocabulary. Its all a matter of seeing, and
visual expression. Its all a matter of going
click.

Conventional photography will never go away
completely. It will be relegated to the fine arts
where digital is firmly rooted in amateur and
professional work.

I stress to students that they are simply not taking a
high school photography class, but they are learning a
life skill. I go on to say, because of photography
class, they will be taking better photographs of their
family and friends over summer vacation. Because of
photography class they will be taking better
photographs of their children when theyre parents.
Because of photography class they will be taking
better photographs of their grandchildren when theyre
grand parents.

Id suggest you start with conventional photography.
Start with photograms to give students their initial
darkroom and processing experience. Show the works of
Man Ray, discussing the elements of design and the
fundamentals of composition. Then move on to camera
obscura and pinhole photography. This teaches them
the fundamentals of what all photography (conventional
and digital) is based on.

Once all the elements of design and fundamentals of
composition along with the basic photographic
principles are experienced, they will be prepared to
take on digital photography. Many of the terms and
tools used in Photoshop are derived from conventional
photography. Learn what they are and what they do in
conventional photography first. Photography is about
light not about high tech.

In this day and age of fiscal educational issues, is a
judgment a based on logistics. Do you have a
conventional darkroom that can handle your class size
already set up or do you have the cameras and
computers to deal with a digital darkroom and digital
photography? Go with what ever you have and is most
easily accessible.

And keep in mind... its all about what and how you
want to teach photography. Go with whatever is most
comfortable for you.

Id be happy to offer what advise and help I could in
the future.

Rich Gross
Pinole Valley High School. Pinole, CA

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