Hot for Teacher

Discussion in 'Photographic Aesthetics and Composition' started by arigram, Apr 9, 2008.

  1. arigram

    arigram Member

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    ... nevermind the silly title reference to a Van Halen song, I have a very serious request to make, maybe the most serious I've had in APUG.

    I am looking for a teacher. Or maybe more than one.

    I never had an official photographic education save for an intro what-those-buttons-do class in Pittsburgh and I am missing one.
    I am missing someone to seriously critique my photography, my technique, teach me new things, help improve my skills and my vision, guide me.
    This isn't a debate whether one should learn by him/herself or be guided by someone. I have dozens of books, talked to many photographers, experimented a lot and have a mediocre portfolio to show.
    But I know I can go further and I will by myself, but I am missing the human element of a mentor, an instructor, an influence.
    I am not afraid of getting boxed in (see that other thread) and losing my personal touch, I have enough of an ego to hold my ground well.

    But, I need someone to help me out with my photography.
    Is there anyone, or are there people who want to play teacher-student with me for a little bit? I promise to be a good student.
     
  2. wfe

    wfe Member

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    Ari,
    I'd be happy to help in way I can but long distance is difficult. Are there any workshops available that you can attend? Any College or University courses? Any local art centers offering courses? etc....

    BTW I think it's wonderful to reach out to others as a part of the learning process. There are many that have helped me along the way. I can say that my workshop experiences have been the most help. Beyond workshops, practice and looking at other's work has been a huge help to me. I always target a workshop that I feel will help with some specifics that I'm trying to learn or areas where I feel I need to improve. I have a few friends that always tell me that my work is wonderful regardless of what it is. Nice people and good friends but not helpful to my learning and improving. You need people that are going to be honest but do remember that opinions are just that. I always consider what others have to say regardless of weather or not I agree with them. Everyone has something to offer and I believe that I can learn from anyone.

    Cheers,
    Bill
     
  3. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

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    Ari-

    I too would be happy to help for whatever it is worth. I think it would be more of a peer exchange than true mentoring, but I think there's plenty of value in that as well.
     
  4. arigram

    arigram Member

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    Thank you replying Bill.
    I am sure any words of advice would be helpful.
    There is a teacher of photography in Athens whom I respect a lot and I have read all his (many) books and even met him once, but Athens is too expensive to travel to. And there are no workshops or serious teachers around here.
     
  5. arigram

    arigram Member

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    Oh, thank you Scott.
    I am happy that my friends are answering my pleads of help!
    I am not sure really how we could approach this, other than my desperate need for help.
     
  6. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    What do you want to learn?

    Or, maybe I should say, what do you think you need to learn?
     
  7. arigram

    arigram Member

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    I guess, first would be where I stand with my photography.
    But, what I really want to learn is the things I can't think about and so, I can't talk of the things I want to learn because I don't know what they are!
     
  8. cysewski

    cysewski Member

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    Sure here is my course syllabus......

    Here is the course syllabus that I use for my Exploring Digital Photography course. http://www.faculty.uaf.edu/ffsdc/syllabus/ Look at the CIOS 258 stuff. I would work with you by email. You would direct the help that I provide by your questions and your email. Feel free to explore the resources that I have and the assignments to get a taste of what I do. I have been taking photographs since 1967, you can get an overview of my work at http://www.cysewski.com/photo/index.html
    If you are interested please contact me by email. There is no charge or anything, it just sounds like it would be fun and interesting.
    Steve
     
  9. arigram

    arigram Member

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    Thanks Steve.
    Your CIOS 258 look like digital photography 101, but I am not interested in the basics of photography. I want to understand where I am with my work, my skills and my style and how to grow from there. I am not sure if I can ask question, because the ones that come to me, usually of technical
    nature are asked here in APUG. Technically I think, one can only help by being next to me in the darkroom or during a shoot, so I guess its more aesthetics and philosophy I am talking about.
    Maybe you or others can get an idea by visiting my website where I have some photographs and artistic/technical information posted.
    I really have no clue how to approach this.
     
  10. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council

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    Hey, if there is a classroom on APUG, I want to sit at the front!

    Ari, I totally understand what you mean. I'm not as advanced as you are in terms of realizations, but I can't invest the monies and energies to go to art school, and don't care either for a weekend camera club. Whatever I do with photography is maybe minor, but for me it's serious. Getting proper feedbacks, pointers, critical beatings and all that, is what I wish I could find from someone I respect.
     
  11. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Okay, that is a fair answer.

    I became interested in how people teach photography and found many different teaching styles. It may be worthwhile first to consider the many possibilities. One of the most interesting and unconventional teaching styles was that of Minor White. Let me suggest reading about his methods. My guess, based on your astute answer, is that you are well beyond classical schooling methods and need Mr. White (or a similar yoda) to give you some zen exercises so that you learn how to set all that knowledge aside. :wink: White woudl have you read Zen in the Art of Archery.

    This reminds me of one of the deep and beautiful Rumsfeld poems, set in verse form by Hart Seely at Slate magazine:

    The Unknown

    As we know,
    There are known knowns.
    There are things we know we know.
    We also know
    There are known unknowns.
    That is to say
    We know there are some things
    We do not know.
    But there are also unknown unknowns,
    The ones we don't know
    We don't know.


    —D.H. Rumsfeld, Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing
     
  12. Glenn M

    Glenn M Member

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    What you need is to find an internet site that offers serious critiques for submitted images. Unfortunately, I'm not aware of any that really do. Most places I've visited mainly offer comments of "nice pic" or "nice colors" even for the most flawed of images. You might try Photo.net or Photo.sig... but I haven't been there in well over a year so not too sure how good they are nowadays in critiqueing or suggesting ways to improve images.

    Best method would be to find a local mentor, or camera club, that's willing to teach and suggest and critique images honestly.
     
  13. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

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    Keith- Rumsfeld forgot to include the last pair - unknown knowns - the things we didn't realize we knew all along. As in, if we invade a foreign country whose population is not supportive of the invasion, we will suffer inordinate casualties, our mission will suffer, and we will embarass ourselves in the world community.
     
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  15. arigram

    arigram Member

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    Tried internet sites, the local camera club is a den of snakes and if I could find a local mentor I wouldn't be asking for help online.

    Keith, maybe you are right. I've learned from my two zen teachers (one a drawing teacher at the SMFA, the other an actual zen teacher), than from any other approach and I also consider looking at thousand of photographs to be such a learning.
    I can't say I want to learn anything from Donald Rumsfeld though, not the type of man I would consider my teacher. Sorry 'bout that.

    How about people reading my thoughts on photography and looking at my photos and telling me two things:
    1) Where I am heading to (unconsciously)
    2) What my flaws are

    Maybe I will help you by saying that life made me shy, even though naturally I am not and every time I walk out with my camera or ask someone to my studio, is a great struggle. But that's more of a personal thing and in the end doesn't affect my actual photography as you can see from my photos. Its just one more thing I have to fight inside of me. I took up photography to help my relationship with people for one thing (not that it has helped).
     
  16. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member

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    Ari... I just had a quick look at your site... something I haven't done in awhile, and I think it might help for you to organize and group your photographs, not so much by subject.. i.e. women, men, kids, etc., and group them where you find visual or emotional cohesion.

    Like, perhaps many of us, I find myself floundering as I work on my own. I did a portfolio development class last fall which clarified my thinking about what I was doing. I'm fortunate that Boston is not too far away, and I can take advantage of those resources.

    Good luck.. I hope you can find someone local, I think it's best to get a mentor or peer to peer relationship in person.
     
  17. jpeets

    jpeets Member

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    I suspect this is a situation that many photographers encounter.

    The standard online critiques seem of little value, as previous posters point out - lot's of bland positive comments, and if a critiqus is actually made, it is often not very thoughtful.

    I have a photographer friend whose work I respect: we often critique each other's work, but I suspect that we aren't totally honest - that's hard to do.

    Maybe an online relationship with a mentor is a useful thing - it just impersonal enough that we might tend to be a bit more honest. If there is an APUG member whose work appeals to you, maybe an offline discussion and print critique would be the way to go.

    Just quickly checked your website: you have some strong images, and I think you are developing a "style" - many of the images initially look like "classic" types but on closer inspection, are a bit quirky (in a good sense). I'd say you clearly don't need any basic feedback, but like all of us, some constructive critique from a high level photographer or other visual artist.

    Good luck with this.
     
  18. mark

    mark Member

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    Ari,
    I don't teach photography, but I mentor teachers daily at work and have worked with some over the net from else where in the states. For your request, I think there are two avenues you can follow to get the help you need.

    Ave. 1- There are lots of very accomplished photogs on this site, not just "good photographers" but people who have been around the block a while and have made a bit of a name for themselves. Seek these folks out, PM them with a request, and don't give up if the first turns you down. Keep going. They are not going to be able to give you a face to face sit down discussion but you can mail them several prints for them to judge then have a chat in the chatroom here or on something like Instant Messenger. Not very personal but might get you what you need. As you work and discuss more prints can be sent and more exchanges made. I would not rely on website viewing of your work. Nothing compares to the real thing.

    Ave. 2- Move to where the person whom you want as a mentor practices. Some folks would say this was a bit of a stretch but it happens all the time, especially in photography.

    As for the unknown unknowns which keep you from saying what it is you want to learn this could be hashed out with the person who agrees to mentor you after they see your portfolio.
     
  19. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Sounds like the typical Camera Club.

    I would rather:

    1) Where I am heading to (unconsciously - or ... semi-consciously..)
    2) What my good points are, especially those I am not aware of at the moment. Where my most productive "path" might be ... although that information might be - and probably Is - of minor importance, considering the fact that only I have the necessary information to make that decision. My faults? Many. I don't think I have to be reminded of them, or have that knowledge reinforced.

    I wish to concentrate and accelerate down the successful path - not spend my time agonizing over mistakes and flaws.

    That sounds like a monumental struggle - against a most formidable opponent - yourself. I've been there - and all I can say is thaat now I try to place my energies where they are the most productive. Flaw correction? Over time, very little "correction" has proved to be possible, and most corrections have not been necessary.

    We cannot be perfect - so we'll have to settle for "unique". If not AS good, very close to it.
     
  20. rwyoung

    rwyoung Member

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    Ari -

    There is a critique gallery. I've peeked at it a few times but never used it myself. Perhaps that might help with some portfolio whipping. There is of course the usual disclaimers about on-screen vs. live viewing of images. Certainly could be helpful for composition, lighting and general image management I suppose.
     
  21. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Don't be sorry, I wouldn't hold up Rumsfeld as an authority on deep thought, I merely found the arrangement of his words amusing in an ironic way :wink: No political or military endorsement from me is implied :rolleyes:

    Okay, let me offer some more pertinent words from Minor White instead....

    No matter how slow the film, Spirit always stands still long enough for the photographer It has chosen. - Minor White

    Sounds like a plan. But again, these are questions that you will ultimately answer for yourself.

    I realize that the classical academic approach is first to make sure that the student)has all the tools that are needed for full creative expression. Unfortunately this process sometimes swallows people whole, and becomes an indoctrination, to the extent that the means fully supplant the end. At a cursory glance, I'd guess that you are well beyond the technical stage and now are thinking more deeply about why you want to create particular compositions, and how on a higher level, not how on the technical level.
     
  22. Ulrich Drolshagen

    Ulrich Drolshagen Subscriber

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    Ari,

    I'd much like to be in a state of having your problem. I am still doing the 101 stuff right now. Nevertheless may I dare to suggest you finding other visual artist (or may be even performing artists) who are *not* photographers to talk about your pictures and your goals of expression?
    In my opinion photographers are too near to each other in their means of expression to be of real help to each other on your advanced level.
    Photographers, especially amateurs, seem to tend to be somewhat technically biased in their visual perception. The best they can offer is something you already know. In the worst case they lead you to some standardization in style instead of helping you establishing and enhancing your own.

    Ulrich

    Postscriptum:

    I once saw a movie about the life of George Gershwin. There was a scene with Maurice Ravel. Gershwin wanted Ravel to teach him composition. Ravel rejected him as a student with the question: "Why do you want to become a 2nd grade Ravel instead of being a 1st class Gershwin?"
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 9, 2008
  23. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Yeah! Like that!!
     
  24. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    There is a variation on this story involving Schoenberg. Gershwin asked Schoenberg to take him as a student and Schoenberg said something like "I'd only make you a second-rate Schoenberg, but you are a good Gershwin already."

    I don't know why Gershwin would have asked Ravel for help, the contrary is more likely. Ravel's final piano concerto was written heavily under the influence of Gershwin. Gershwin pulled a number of people through into jazzy/bluesy American influenced post-classical music, including even Rachmaninoff.
     
  25. middy

    middy Member

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    Ari, compositionally and aesthetically I quite like your photos. Most of them don't move me much beyond that.

    Perhaps you should be more concerned with what you want to say than how to say it.
     
  26. arigram

    arigram Member

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    That's something serious to think about, even though I am not sure what you really mean as I rarely have to say anything beyond the photograph itself.