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RustyTheGeek

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How to teach a friend Photography...
« on: November 06, 2013, 11:16:04 PM »
I think this will be a fun thread.  I thought I would throw this out there and see what everyone thinks...

-  Neighbor wants to learn photography and wonders if I will teach her.
-  I'm an experienced technical instructor, just need to decide what will work for her.
-  Neighbor is a mom of foreign origin whose son is also in our scout troop.
-  She eventually wants to buy some good equipment and learn to take good images.

I have plenty of equipment similar to most of the CR gang.  My plan was to loan her a basic DSLR, (like a Rebel or a 30D) with a basic kit lens and flash along with a few good books and let her get her feet wet.  Then loan another camera (like a 5Dc or something different), different lens, maybe a prime and let her experiment some more.  Demonstrate the fact that she can get good pictures with any camera if she develops good technique, etc.  Along the way answering questions and then teach more later after she is more familiar with what to ask.

Cart before the horse or the chicken and the egg:  I think that many folks go out and buy a ton of gear, mess with it for a while and then get discouraged because it isn't what they expect.  It isn't that fulfilling.  My goal is to first see if she truly enjoys taking pictures before she invests in gear or gets turned off by trying to formally  "learn" photography.  Actually taking pictures is the most important part and often that is the part people learn they don't really prefer after all.  Or, by actually taking pictures one tends to be motivated to learn on their own why or why not a picture worked and get the spark, the itch to keep going.  One also starts to discover what kind of pictures they like to take and how they like to go about it.  How many of us have said that if they could have known some period of time earlier what they knew later, how they would change their initial purchases, etc.  By loaning her a camera for while, I hope to give her the ability to make a better purchase later that suits the style she develops.

So, what are the thoughts of CR members that have some experience with this scenario or teaching in general?  Keep in mind that I'm not new to teaching but since this isn't an official classroom type thing, I figure I would try another approach.  It's more of a private tutor kind of thing I guess.  The more good ideas I get here, the better!  Thanks.
Yes, but what would  surapon  say ??  :D

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How to teach a friend Photography...
« on: November 06, 2013, 11:16:04 PM »

Jim Saunders

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Re: How to teach a friend Photography...
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2013, 11:28:48 PM »
I think this will be a fun thread.  I thought I would throw this out there and see what everyone thinks...

-  Neighbor is a mom of foreign origin whose son is also in our scout troop.

This is your double-edged sword I think; The kids can be good motivation but also the reason you'll need to be patient.  If she wants to learn then it's a matter of finding the right pace at which to present a new idea.  That might be leaps and bounds, it might be an hour or two a week.  I think it's swell that she wants to learn and that you're willing to teach.

Jim
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Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: How to teach a friend Photography...
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2013, 11:30:02 PM »
I would not charge anything, just advise them that most camera stores offer free classes for people buying DSLR's.
 
Charging a friend and neighbor can lead to disagreements and trouble, I'd do it for free or help them decide what type of equipment they want.  That's the real important part. 
 
I have bought lots of almost unused DSLR's bought by those who found them too complicated to use, and then put them up on Craigslist after a year or two.  Many of them thought they would get better images than their P&S, and instead were disappointed that everything in the image was not in sharp focus like it is with a P&S.  That's important for a new buyer to understand, the shallow depth of field from a DSLR requires that you set the aperture and distance / focal length to get a deep depth of field.

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Re: How to teach a friend Photography...
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2013, 01:35:35 AM »
Maybe sit together and view photos and analyze them artistically and technically.

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Re: How to teach a friend Photography...
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2013, 03:12:49 AM »
I’ve had a few similar requests over the last 2 years, too.  Here is what I have found works well.

Firstly, I ask the person to buy a scrap book or two.  This will sound nerdy, but it serves a purpose.  For the first week or two I get them to paste photos from magazines or newspapers they really like, and to write next to the photo what they like about it in their own words.  This gives you an idea how “artistic” they are and a general understanding of what they already know.  Secondly, it gives a good insight into the type of photography they like – I use this to target their learning sessions.  After each lesson when I teach them something new, I ask them to add more photos about that lesson to the scrap book and again write why they like the image.  This means they are actively looking, and hence reinforcing, the idea – and if they don’t get it you’ll soon know.  I try not to get technical until we both have an understanding of what exactly they want and how quickly they absorb the information - a lot of people are afraid of technical jargon and detail and are happy to stay on the green square.

After each lesson I let them have a free week or two of just taking photos on the lesson.  Get them to print a couple of their favourite and worst photos, and together you can critically analyse why they are good or bad at the next session.  You learn just as much from your successes as your mistakes.  If you can, relate back to their scrap book of photos.

But most importantly of all, make it fun.  Photography is and should always be fun.

Hope this helps. 

docholliday

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Re: How to teach a friend Photography...
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2013, 04:31:44 AM »
I'd say to send her to a local store offering classes (free or otherwise). I lecture a lot and do teach advanced studio photography, but I don't teach beginners. It'll keep your neighborly friendship, your own headaches down, and she'll be amongst her "peers" at the same level of knowledge so that they can bounce ideas off each other freely with the guidance of a structured method to learn.

As she gets more "advanced" and familiar with the craft, then you could always step in and give advice, critiques, etc. Once she has the basics down, then if you were to take her out on a shoot to work on something specific, i.e fill flash, composition, etc. it would be much easier.

I tried to teach a few friends back in the day and they ended up getting pissed off because I was "harsh" or something of such when I critiqued their work. They pretty much expected me to just pat them on the back and say they were doing just fine, like their Facebook/Flickr/etc followers were saying. Truth was, their shots were horrid, both technically and aesthetically, and while my critque was purely non-biased, they didn't feel that way.

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Re: How to teach a friend Photography...
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2013, 05:34:07 AM »
I just tell anyone to keep on taking photos and not stop, that's how I learned, went to a class back in high school and learnt all the basics but nothing retained and my photography was unaltered. I began taking interest more later, finding photos that I liked and tried to recreate them, eventually shooting subjects in styles I liked. The needed basics for exposure and settings catch up, then after that, understanding of different cameras and lenses and all the wonders of lighting.
I went to a photography course in University as well, right when I was getting into wedding photography and portraiture, but oh goodness it was a joke, of course all the 101 basics I already knew already, but the instructor was reading out of a  textbook just covering all these technical things, even though he talks about his glory days of shooting dozens of weddings. Rule of thirds and interesting subject matter to photograph were covered, but I felt that if I were learning photography from start right there then I wouldn't have learnt anything or improve in it.

Ultimately with anything, self interest and persistent continued effort will lead to success in learning.
Also the two photography teachers I've had in classes NEVER showed any of their own work, only what they found on the internet, so bringing credibility and as a show of experience/knowledge it's good to show your own photos for examples.

I've gone about with people that were interested in photography and just walk through town and take photos of stuff and people, I help them out if they want to take something a certain way, and give (hopefully) useful comments on what I think could work good, or maybe the photo is already good and just let them know that. Sharing and talking about each others photos, what you/others like is important experience for growing, while criticizing too much is often harmful because photography is an art form, and unless someone wants to go pro for a certain field, they just need time, and with a lot of shooting will get to a style and perspective they can feel confident about.

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Re: How to teach a friend Photography...
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2013, 05:34:07 AM »

RustyTheGeek

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Re: How to teach a friend Photography...
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2013, 04:08:59 PM »
I would not charge anything, just advise them that most camera stores offer free classes for people buying DSLR's.
 
Charging a friend and neighbor can lead to disagreements and trouble, I'd do it for free or help them decide what type of equipment they want.  That's the real important part. 
 
I have bought lots of almost unused DSLR's bought by those who found them too complicated to use, and then put them up on Craigslist after a year or two.  Many of them thought they would get better images than their P&S, and instead were disappointed that everything in the image was not in sharp focus like it is with a P&S.  That's important for a new buyer to understand, the shallow depth of field from a DSLR requires that you set the aperture and distance / focal length to get a deep depth of field.

Thanks for the insight, Mt. Spokane.  I wasn't planning on charging anything.  I totally agree on the DSLRs on Craigslist!
Yes, but what would  surapon  say ??  :D

RustyTheGeek

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Re: How to teach a friend Photography...
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2013, 04:28:02 PM »
Thanks to everyone so far for the feedback.  I appreciate it.  Keep it coming!   :D
Yes, but what would  surapon  say ??  :D

silversurfer96

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Re: How to teach a friend Photography...
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2013, 05:07:31 PM »
Loaning the gear is a step forward and a great gesture on your part.  I would say to have the neighbor dictate the pace depending on your availability.  I am sure that the neighbor would have a need for certain type of photo that they are looking to capture.  If not, just let her keep taking picture.  Eventually, she will ask you the stuffs that matter to her or the style of picture she wants to capture.

For me, I didn't have the luxury of knowing someone who was a pro at taking picture giving me advices.  I learned everything by taking the pictures after pictures and improving upon as time progresses.  Of course, that took forever, but with each step forward, the picture got better and better.

But to go back and give someone a full download of what you have come to know, that's going to take a long time.  I look at people like Bryan Peterson who is always doing his Adorama tips and tricks with his group of students, and asked myself, isn't that great to do the things you love most and make money out of it.  Happy teaching your neighbor... :)
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RustyTheGeek

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Re: How to teach a friend Photography...
« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2013, 05:15:29 PM »
I just tell anyone to keep on taking photos and not stop, that's how I learned, went to a class back in high school and learnt all the basics but nothing retained and my photography was unaltered. I began taking interest more later, finding photos that I liked and tried to recreate them, eventually shooting subjects in styles I liked. The needed basics for exposure and settings catch up, then after that, understanding of different cameras and lenses and all the wonders of lighting.
I went to a photography course in University as well, right when I was getting into wedding photography and portraiture, but oh goodness it was a joke, of course all the 101 basics I already knew already, but the instructor was reading out of a  textbook just covering all these technical things, even though he talks about his glory days of shooting dozens of weddings. Rule of thirds and interesting subject matter to photograph were covered, but I felt that if I were learning photography from start right there then I wouldn't have learnt anything or improve in it.

Ultimately with anything, self interest and persistent continued effort will lead to success in learning.
Also the two photography teachers I've had in classes NEVER showed any of their own work, only what they found on the internet, so bringing credibility and as a show of experience/knowledge it's good to show your own photos for examples.

I've gone about with people that were interested in photography and just walk through town and take photos of stuff and people, I help them out if they want to take something a certain way, and give (hopefully) useful comments on what I think could work good, or maybe the photo is already good and just let them know that. Sharing and talking about each others photos, what you/others like is important experience for growing, while criticizing too much is often harmful because photography is an art form, and unless someone wants to go pro for a certain field, they just need time, and with a lot of shooting will get to a style and perspective they can feel confident about.

I've taught myself most of what I know in life along with the help of others.  However, when I was in college majoring in Engineering back in the early '90's, I took an elective Photography class already knowing the technical stuff.  Good ole Ae-1 and a free Darkroom!!  Plus the darkroom I set up at home with a professional friend's extra enlarger and other darkroom equipment.  I figured it would be a fun and easy blow off A.  Not so!  I spent as much time on that one elective as I did on all of my other majors classes!!  (I was a 2nd semester Junior at the time.)  The class was taught from an art perspective and concentrated on composition, style, etc etc.  Miles away from what I was good at.  I could make a good exposure.  Otherwise, it really challenged me and the teacher wouldn't cut me any slack!  (He was determined to develop some art perspective in my technically minded ass.)  So while all the other students struggled to understand ISO, f-stops and shutter speed, the instructor rode my ass on the art stuff since I could already use the camera with ease.  I would ACE the exams but he graded me hard on the subjective photo projects we turned in.  I still got an A in the class but I had to work my ass off for it!  I'll never forget it.
Yes, but what would  surapon  say ??  :D

sdsr

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Re: How to teach a friend Photography...
« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2013, 05:24:18 PM »
You've received a lot of good advice already.  All I would like to add for now is three specific suggestions, based in part on friends/colleagues I've helped buy cameras but who complain that their photos never look as good as they think mine do - which to some extent tends to turn on issues concerning light and/or sharpness.

1. I'm not sure a standard kit lens is a good place to start unless she will be photographing things that are fairly close and in good light.  An inexpensive decent prime might be better (or, if you want a zoom, one that's sharper and faster).  I had forgotten what kit lenses are like until I was tempted last week by a very good deal I ran across on the Canon SL1. I didn't want the kit lens, but it was cheaper to buy the camera with it than without and I thought I might as well try it.  The camera arrived on a cloudy day, by the time the battery was charged it was getting late in the afternoon, and the image quality was unacceptable in just about every way.  So I tried a variety of primes in both better and worse light and the improvement was shocking (if not surprising).  I say all this because someone moving up to a dslr will likely be wanting/expecting a significant improvement in image quality, and unless you're teaching her in bright light a slow zoom might result in disappointment.

2. In my limited experience, novices want to take photos indoors at home.  As we know, the best way to improve such photos is to avoid the camera's flash and instead use ambient light + fast prime and/or use bounce flash.  But novices (in my limited experience, anyway) tend to be intimidated by adding an external flash; if that's true of your neighbor, it would be helpful if you could demonstrate that it's beneficial and nothing to be intimidated by.

3. Talking of intimidation, I know several people who seem to have an attitude towards RAW files that borders on phobia even after I've shown them the benefits of shooting RAW + JPEG.  Assuming you get as far as photo processing, you might want to introduce her to the wonderful world of RAW (assuming you agree that it's better...).

Good luck!
« Last Edit: November 07, 2013, 05:31:56 PM by sdsr »

duydaniel

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Re: How to teach a friend Photography...
« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2013, 05:38:08 PM »
Point them to Canon/Nikon site there are bunch of video/article tutorials


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Re: How to teach a friend Photography...
« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2013, 05:38:08 PM »

distant.star

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Re: How to teach a friend Photography...
« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2013, 05:52:47 PM »
.
Excellent advice, Mr. Augs.

The first thing I tell people who want to take pictures is to go find the pictures they really like -- then try to take pictures like that.

The other thing is that, a the most basic level, photography is no more than, "Hey, look what I saw." If you don't think what you took a picture of is worth looking at, probably no one else will either.

Again, have fun.



I’ve had a few similar requests over the last 2 years, too.  Here is what I have found works well.

Firstly, I ask the person to buy a scrap book or two.  This will sound nerdy, but it serves a purpose.  For the first week or two I get them to paste photos from magazines or newspapers they really like, and to write next to the photo what they like about it in their own words.  This gives you an idea how “artistic” they are and a general understanding of what they already know.  Secondly, it gives a good insight into the type of photography they like – I use this to target their learning sessions.  After each lesson when I teach them something new, I ask them to add more photos about that lesson to the scrap book and again write why they like the image.  This means they are actively looking, and hence reinforcing, the idea – and if they don’t get it you’ll soon know.  I try not to get technical until we both have an understanding of what exactly they want and how quickly they absorb the information - a lot of people are afraid of technical jargon and detail and are happy to stay on the green square.

After each lesson I let them have a free week or two of just taking photos on the lesson.  Get them to print a couple of their favourite and worst photos, and together you can critically analyse why they are good or bad at the next session.  You learn just as much from your successes as your mistakes.  If you can, relate back to their scrap book of photos.

But most importantly of all, make it fun.  Photography is and should always be fun.

Hope this helps.
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Re: How to teach a friend Photography...
« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2013, 06:26:21 PM »
If the student is an adult and has evenings free, many junior colleges offer photography programs that are inexpensive and start with students who have never picked up anything more than a point and shoot camera. The classes here in California where I live are very good. Camera stores are another great source.

I prefer to let someone else handle the basic teaching and be a source for discussing photography including answering questions. Last, to be a photo buddy on shoots.

I'm still studying myself and find the challenges worth the rewards. Oh yes, there are plenty of failures and frustrations along the way!

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Re: How to teach a friend Photography...
« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2013, 06:26:21 PM »