What to Teach


I’ve been told numerous times that I should give workshops and classes and I’ve been interested in pursuing teaching, but I have one huge huge problem. I have no clue as to what to teach.

Teaching generally consists of imparting something that can be learned. I could teach digital photography, large format photography, color printing, black and white darkroom printing, macro photography, strobes, and studio lighting. Probably more things will come to my mind when I proofread this. The trouble with teaching any of these things is that pretty much all there is to know about them is readily available through Google searches. The rest is using the techniques and getting comfortable with them.

Then there’s also my bad attitude. I’m not very interested in just teaching technique. I’m an artist and any art requires the craft (technique) to actualize one’s artistic vision, so craft is very important. But craft is just craft. It requires learning and practice, but artistry is not required.

It’s the artistic vision part that interests me, but how does one teach artistic vision except by lying and claiming one can teach something that is so inner and so personal that even the “teacher” can get in the way of ones pursuing it.

This morning I was out at my favorite fall grass location. I’ve been photographing grasses for probably 4-5 years now so I don’t think very much about the technical aspects of what I’m doing except to get an image that looks right to me. The reds, purples, browns, yellows and everything in between of the grasses are just amazing this year.

I look around and walk around. Something grabs me. I may look at it for a moment and move on or maybe I think there is something worth pursuing. Not a whole lot of thought goes into the decision. If I choose to pursue it, I’ll get into position, set up my tripod and look through the camera. I zoom in and out till I find a composition I like and then I determine exposure. I want maximum sharpness, but I also don’t want the image to be too busy. I use an accessory flash unit and I make a guess at the power I should use based on the exposure my camera gives me and my distance from my subject. I take a photograph. I take a look at the histogram to check my exposure. I look at the image on the LCD to check if my flash is too much or too little. I work with everything till the histogram and LCD image look satisfactory and then I move on.

Not terribly exciting. Have I put you to sleep already? What is exciting is what’s happening inside of me during all this. I’m absolutely thrilled to be working and making photographs like this, but all of my thrills and excitement are nonverbal. I would even go so far as to say the creative experience for everyone, not just me is, nonverbal. It doesn’t come from our minds. It comes from a place much deeper.

How does one teach that?

Is there something you’d like to learn from me? Leave a comment here or contact me via my web page, http://www.timelesslight.com, and I’ll see if I can help.

~ by danbaumbach on September 16, 2018.

4 Responses to “What to Teach”

  1. I learn a lot from just reading your blog. I’m a 2D mixed media artist – your conversations do teach artistic vision just by reminding us that we need to find our own voices – our own yes/no – our own joy making. Many teachers just teach how to be like them.

  2. I’ve had similar thoughts. Sometimes it’s hard enough writing out why I made any of my own work, let alone teach someone how I did it. It seems all rather playing by feel.

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