Quote Originally Posted by smileyguy
Wigwam Jones, I hear what you're saying. So let's take your argument a few steps further... Let's just not teach photography at all. Let them learn on their own like the original photographers did. Or perhaps like some of us did. I'm sure there are many of us that didn't go to school for photography.
I didn't go to school for photography, but I took a course in high school, way back in 1977 or so. In college, I think I took a course on "Mountain Photography" because it looked like a cake course, which it was. Photos of mountains - we have a lot of them in Colorado, where I went to school.

This is just one guy, teaching at a smallish university in southern Ontario. He's not teaching the future professional photographers at a major arts university.
I agree that this is not a 'major arts university'. Which one did Adams attend? Weston? Winogrand? Strand? Meatyard? I did not know that the photographers we hold in high regards were all arts majors at major universities.

And I'm sure this is not the only thing he teaches nor the only way he teaches it. He's introducing people to photography that may be art teachers in high schools. This is a PART of what they have to learn over their four years there. I don't think there is any crime in taking a small step back from the uber-automated, digital, one size fits all world and having them spend a few bucks on a manual camera and lens and some film. Heavens! Isn't that part of the reason this forum exists?
No one is required to purchase any kit to participate in forums here. Nor, I hope are people's abilities made less of because they do not know how to set their aperture, or why they should.

He is setting a requirement that does not make any sense in modern terms. Where does one buy a Pentax K1000? Not at the local photography store, assuming that there is one (my town has exactly none). Not at Best Buy or Walmart, certainly. E-Bay? Ah, and if the student ends up buying a non-functional piece of 'mint minus' junk, as many of us have? Make them buy another?

This requirement alone, I would presume, would turn at least some would-be photographers off from taking the course. Ah, and we say "Good! Get those slackers out of there!" And who knows what future photographic genius we have thwarted in our purity?

Requirements of university courses are everywhere. Texts are a prime example: You MUST have this text and edition, not the edition before it but the current edition. That used to piss me off at university but that was how it worked. A LOT of courses would go further than that with their requirements.
And if one is required to hunt down and purchase a rare manuscript to take a basic course in English Lit? This is not a request that the student come equipped with a camera that one can easily obtain these days.

How would you teach a course like this, Wiggy?
I would teach the theory and history of photography, include lots of examples, and encourage my students to take lots of photographs of everything they could think of, having explained how composition affects the final product. For those who were limited by the capabilities of their cameras would be explanations of what could give them more control, should they choose to pursue it - while reminding them that masterpieces have been made with cameras that possessed meniscus lenses and no exposure control whatsoever.

I would teach that a master understands the limitations of his or her tools and works within them, using their characteristics to best advantage; and that when the tools selected cannot produce the desired result, there are other tools that can allow a finer degree of control.

In my local photography club there is a woman who at first glance looks like a typical 'Soccer Mom.' She has a point-n-shoot digital camera, and she does not know very much about it - she never fiddles with any of the settings. Sometimes it does not focus where she wants it to, but she knows how to 'fool' it into doing what she wants most times. Her point-n-shoot fortunately has a nice sharp lens and good automated exposure control. She does not understand computers and does not have a darkroom - therefore her photographs are framed in the camera, printed at Walmart, and when she makes an enlargment that requires cropping, she draws lines on a 4x6 print to indicate where she wants the crop made. She has put my best efforts to shame more than once, and I am envious of her talent.

One can say that she would be so much better if she only had better tools and the knowledge to control them. She does not seem to think so. Her work backs up her choices.

If one like her attempted to take a basic photography course today, should she be excluded because she did not wish to learn manual focus and exposure control?

Such demands seem to me to be elitist, snobbish, and ultimately self-defeating to the craft of photography.