Teaching Workshops

Discussion in 'Workshops & Lectures' started by sdivot, Jan 28, 2010.

  1. sdivot

    sdivot Subscriber

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    I've been curious about an issue for some time now. Perhaps my APUG friends can help me with it.
    A while back, someone e-mailed me after seeing my website. He liked my gum work. He asked if I ever teach workshops. I said no, not at this time. Frankly I never even considered it before. I'm still not really considering it.
    Everything I know about printing I learned from other people and books. Kerik, Chris Anderson, etc..
    So my question is: at what point can you possibly call something your own, to the point of teaching it to other people? If I tried to teach a workshop using techniques I learned specifically from other people and from books, I would feel like I was stealing. It would be like plagiarism to use someone elses techniques and pass them off as your own. Then again, very rarely do we find anything that is completely original. All things come from another source. Would you just teach it, but give credit to your sources and that suffice?
    Any thoughts on this issue?
    Steve
    www.scdowellphoto.com
     
  2. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    Teaching is not so much about what is your original work but in passing knowledge along. If you teach a workshop crediting your sources will only make you more credible as a teacher as then anyone can see the quality of your sources.
     
  3. mikebarger

    mikebarger Subscriber

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    You've taken the time to learn a skill, a musical instrument teacher charges and they had to learn the skill.

    You would be paid for "your" knowledge. Spread the wealth, teach someone so they can in turn teach someone else.

    My 2 cents.

    Mike
     
  4. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    I learned carbon printing from an article in ViewCamera Magazine back in 1992. So basically I used the info provided by the author (Michael Sandquist -- hope I got the 1st name right!). Saw my first carbon prints (other than my own) in 2003 at a conference Sandy King was also attending. Since then, I have been able to share knowledge and gain knowledge through the internet. With some demand and some encouragement, I taught my first professional workshop a couple years back -- after doing informal free week-end workshops for our students for a few years.

    But workshops are a scam and I will tell you why. Take my last carbon workshop I gave in Newport, OR, as an example. I conned 4 people into paying me to supposively teach them to make carbon prints. What actually happened was that I learned a whole bunch about carbon printing and about giving workshops -- and (this is the kicker) I had a ton of fun. So not only did I make a couple hundred bucks, learn stuff, and have fun, I also got away from the family and the honey-do list for a weekend (anyone want three almost-13 year old boys?). And had a nice drive up and down the Oregon Coast. Okay -- the participants managed to go home with prints and the knowledge to make more.

    So teach a workshop! We all benefit from the knowledge of the true pioneers of photography, and if we are lucky we can add a bit to that base of knowledge. And if we are really lucky, we can pass that knowledge forward.

    Vaughn

    The fine print: Giving workshops is also a lot of work, stress, time, and stress (I am hoping experience will reduce the stress a bit). And it is worth it!

    PS -- if one of my past students eventually give carbon printing workshops on their own, should I demand a 10% commission on their workshop fees?:wink:
     
  5. Jim Fitzgerald

    Jim Fitzgerald Member

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    Vaughn, I would be happy to give you one of my prints instead of the 10%. It would be worth more, I hope. Next we meet I will do so, but I digress.
    I learned carbon transfer from my mentor, Vaughn. He is the photographer that helped me unlock what I had been searching for for my entire photographic career. He explained the process and taught me what I needed to know. Gave me my foundation. Unlocked my passion for my form of expression.
    I am giving my first workshop next month because I love carbon transfer and I love teaching and passing along what I have learned. I hope to at some point unlock the passion in someone else the way Vaughn did for me. I do not expect to make a lot of money at this and that for me is not the point. I love carbon and wish to pass my knowledge on. I expect to spend two 13 hour days teaching and at the end of it I hope I will have done well. I WILL have a lot of fun.

    Jim
     
  6. sanking

    sanking Member

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    I don't believe that any of your workshop teachers, especially people like Kerik and Chris who are tops in their area of photographic expertise, would find anything wrong with you teaching a workshop where you passed on the things they taught you. In fact, I think as teachers they would be pleased to see you carry on their work, so long as you learned well, know what you are doing, and give full credit to them for any personal things they may have taught you. By personal I mean concrete contributions to the craft that they may have made which are unique to their working style and not part of the larger craft of gum printing which is part of our photographic heritage.

    As someone who has taught quite a number of carbon transfer workshops (and a few pt/pd ones as well), in the US and in several countries abroad, I share with my students all of my skills and don't have any secrets. What they learn from me they should feel free to pass on to others as they like. From time to time I may be working on something experimental and not have all the details worked out and in those circumstances it is possible that I would ask that they not share this with others as my method since it is not complete and I may reject it down the road for one reason or another.

    So in your shoes I think you should have no compunctions about offering workshops in which you share with others the knowledge and experiences of your own teachers. But if you have handouts they prepared and gave you for the workshop you should not make those available to your students unless you have the specific authorization to do so. When one takes the time to write an article or book about a process that is intellectual property and we should respect the rights of the creator.


    Sandy King
     
  7. Kerik

    Kerik Member

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    Steve, I agree with what Sandy and everyone is saying. Nothing I teach do I consider proprietary. There is no licensing agreement or threat of legal ramifications. A student pays me to to teach them something, then it's theirs to do with as they wish. In fact, when I see or hear of someone using techniques that I'm fairly certain started with me or my old partner in crime, Stuart Melvin, it just makes me smile. I do appreciate it when I get a nod from someone for the techniques I teach. As long as you don't misrepresent things you've learned from others as "yours", there's nothing to feel guilty about. In fact being a good teacher is more about communication than anything else. Face it, most of the alternative processes are in fact very simple. It ain't rocket science, despite how some people may represent it. Your work has grown immensely since the workshop you took from me several years ago. Go forth and spread the wealth, my friend!
     
  8. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Back in the 1980's in an article "Where the Wild Things Went" in Ten" magazine (UK) a group of distinguished photographers and teachers, including Thomas Joshua Cooper, Paul Hill, John Blakemore etc where described as disciples of Minor White and others.

    That term disciples is important because it means the passing on of knowledge from others. A good workshop leader will where appropriate reference previous workers and as Sandy King says pass on all their skills. It's the sharing of experience thats important and it can work both ways.

    Ian
     
  9. sdivot

    sdivot Subscriber

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    Thanks for the replies everyone. And thanks for the compliment Kerik. It means a great deal. I was really just curious about this issue. I have no intention to teach anything any time soon. Frankly, I'm not much an an "experimenter". I find what works for me and stick with it until I want to do something else. Consequently, if a student asked "ok, this is the way you do it, but what if we changed this or that variable?" Well, at that point we would be learning together!
    So I think a person should really have a mastery of the craft, with many variables considered before they start trying to convey anything to others.
    Thanks again,
    Steve
     
  10. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I should have added "Beware false Prophets" or in the case of Photography people who don't have a full understanding and mastery of what they are teaching.

    So yes like you say mastery of the Craft aspect is paramount.

    Ian
     
  11. Kerik

    Kerik Member

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    As long as "mastery" (a term thrown around much too often, IMO) doesn't mean close-minded or a holder of the Holy Grail of whatever process. As Vaghn said, I often learn things from students simply because they are curious and creative and want to try something I hadn't thought of before. My 15-year-old daughter who prints gum over platinum and can pour collodion plates quite well is a great example of this.

    Her: "Hey Dad, can I make a platinum print on the interleaving tissue from the digital negative stuff?"

    Me, skeptically: "Ummm, I don't know, it never occurred to me to try it."

    Guess what, it worked quite well!
     
  12. mike c

    mike c Subscriber

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    As a student of a student who is now a TEACHER and me as a student, I'm grateful for that tradition of passing on knowledge of these old and wonderful processes.Just attended a two day workshop that included both Carbon Transfer and Pt/pl printing.Its a bit of a frantic pace at times,but all three teachers were very patient and informative .I would like to thank Jim Fitzgerald,who singly handled the Carbon Transfer till the late hours of the nite(he's gotta to be sleeping at his job this morning).Also Per and Dan who nursed use throw the pt/pl process.After all was done I came throw with a far better understanding of both processes,and a couple of nice prints. What a great leaning experience,and met some very nice fellow students.

    Mike Clark
     
  13. Scully & Osterman

    Scully & Osterman Member

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    Mastery of the process is obviously very important. Many of our students are teaching, and now many of theirs...! Which in many ways is very flattering. Some are very good at it. When someone asks, should I take his/her class? My advice: First, look at their work. But that is only part of the story.

    My next question is, "Can they teach?"

    It's great for people to share their knowledge. What amazes me is when people assume they can teach, even when they have never taught before. Yes, some are naturals, but some are not. There are skills needed for teaching well. Even a naturally gifted educator will admit that being good at teaching does not just happen. There is an amazing amount of work; thoughtfulness, preparation, anticipation (what your students will ask and need) and of course, communication.

    It's never just the day (or days) you are teaching... with all photography, especially with collodion or other historic processes. There is (or should be) extensive research, practical work and days of preparation beforehand. And lots of reflection and self-criticism after the class, "How can I do that better next time?"

    I never expected to become a teacher and was surprised to find out how much I love it. It's exhausting and incredibly rewarding. But then, I was lucky.... I had great teacher. ;o)

    France
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 2, 2010
  14. lilmsmaggie

    lilmsmaggie Member

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    IMHO - this is the essence of the process we call learning. It's recursive. It's continous. It's a cycle of maturation. We learn. We become proficient, or we master. We teach others as we learn and in turn are taught by them.

    As a noob, I find it curious that most if not all the workshops I've investigated have as their main focus, printing. I think I understand why.

    The printing process itself is a skill that one has to grasp in order to fulfill one's photographic vision. But why such strong emphasis? All you have to do is look at the threads under this topic. I would think that there should be equal emphasis placed on learning to use the camera as a "tool" first, before indulging oneself in the carbon process, alternative processess and the like.

    I think I'm about 40 pages into Leslie's Stroebel's book and already I have a headache. There are so many more considerations with large format photography that I don't even think I considered coming from 35mm.

    On the surface, the thought of using a LF camera it is very intimidating. Tilts, swings, rises, scheimpflug, bellows factor -- OUCH! my head is hurting already. :D

    Can someone explain why there are so few workshops on camera technique and so many devoted to printing?
     
  15. mike c

    mike c Subscriber

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    Camera technique for view camera would make a good work shop.I have been doing what you have in Reading about such technique in forums and books over the years and a lot of trial and errors,I suppose if I were more serous about it going to a collage like Brooks or Art Center would be the thing to do.Never intended on making a career of Photography.
    Mike