« on: July 28, 2013, 11:33:53 AM »
a good photographer does not make a good teacher. quite often they make terrible teachers because they cannot impart what they know in an effective manner to a student who knows much less.
the first class i was asked to teach was a digital class at a local college for continuing education. i didnt even own a digital camera at the time and i swore up and down that i was not fully qualified to teach the class. didnt matter to them...the woman who hired me asked me a simple question, "can you learn the material the week before you teach it?". i decided that i could and off i went. spent the next 10 years teaching at a couple different colleges including digital, color darkroom, B&W darkroom, and studio classes.
first off, you do not necessarily need to be in expert. a teacher is simply a facilitator who relays the information to the students in a clear way. you need to be good at that or you will have a tough time. you can be a bad photographer and still be a great photography teacher. i was honest when i didnt know the answer to a question but what i would do is jump on the internet in the classroom and look up the info on the spot. if i couldnt do that, i would find the answer by the next class. be honest about what you know and dont know but be prepared to find the information and deliver it the next day.
find out what they know on day one. do a 30 minute "get to know you" session where they introduce themselves, everyone describes what their prior experience in photography is, and what they hope to learn or accomplish on this particular trip. i would give a 15 question "quiz" covering the basics in photography (shutterspeed, aperture, iso, metering, etc) on the first day as well so i could see exactly who was at what level. expect the responses to vary greatly, but it will provide a framework for you of what subjects need to be covered. don't assume to go in their with advanced techniques as losing your students to stuff that is beyond their current skill level is awkward and uncomfortable.
cover the basics regardless....even if i knew i had advanced students i would go over shutterspeed, aperture, ISO, metering modes, and my philosophy towards proper exposure. review is healthy practice for students so even if someone thinks they know it, the students who dont still need to hear it. plus i found that seeing a different approach was beneficial to students who may have already been familiar with the subject matter.
plan each days lesson but expect to deviate often. come up with a list of topics to cover over a day but order them in a way that stuff at the end can be cut or bumped to the next day. get the essentials covered first. each group of students is unique and they will dictate how fast you get through the material. covering less more thoroughly is far better than jamming a ton of material down their throat of which they will forget most of it. the beauty of a creative class is that if you run short on planned material you can always fill up time with more shooting and more critique.
your primary focus should be the students. its very difficult if not impossible to seriously shoot your own stuff during classtime. your students will need/want your attention virtually the whole time. if you do dedicate time for yourself to shoot then it should be for the purpose of illustrating points you made during the lecture or be relative to the next days lesson.
if your primary purpose for going is to teach then you should have a great experience. if you primarily want to get a safari trip in then you may find the experience less rewarding and maybe a bit frustrating. either way it will be a learning experience. good luck!