A question that I’m often asked is whether I find teaching photography classes boring or if it’s like a numbered coloring book and I check out on autopilot. Over the course of the last few months, I’ve had an opportunity to take some individuals on some local photo expeditions to help assist them in learning their cameras, embracing the concepts of photography and helping them to gain comfort in shooting the world around them. It’s a simple adventure resulting in a ton of fun, an renewed appreciation for the freedom we enjoy with our cameras and an opportunity to hit the “reset” button and enjoy photography from the grassroots.
Photographer’s Tip: The Power Button and Other Knobs & Switches
Even in the very first, fundamentally basic class, boring isn’t a part of the vocabulary. As we cover basic principles, menus and physical controls, I find myself snapping back to my learning days and remembering the importance of knowing your equipment inside out. The best and latest equipment isn’t worth anything without the knowledge, and deft skill required to operate it. I’m a strong believer in gadgets, toys and cool things, but I’m an even more passionate proponent of the idea that you should know these gadgets and gizmos inside & out before even exploring the thought of upgrading. Afterall, why buy the latest when you don’t even know what it does better than the last one you didn’t know how to use? This is a principle that my students are engrained with. Development and the next level aren’t explored or discussed until they can reflect in an educated manner their current lesson. As you might have guessed, the auto mode or easy scene modes are free passes to the “don’t waste my time and go away” train on these excursions.
This equipment awareness becomes the first lesson and the underlying theme when I discuss what cameras, accessories and extra equipment people should buy. I explain to them that with adventure and travel photography, the pace tends to move so fast that it becomes more about getting a shot, not necessarily the shot. Because of this, instruction allows me the opportunity to slow down and further refine and develop even the most basic skills and habits so that when the time does come for the shot, that’s when the brain’s auto pilot should take over and all the settings get taken care of in a second nature manner and I can simply focus on getting what I want instead of looking down to figure out if the camera is “on”. Photography should be about capturing a memory, not trying to figure out what the buttons do. Get that out of the way, learn your camera, read the manual (no joke) and that’s when the fun really starts.
And for those wondering, check this out to see what I’m currently using.
Some behind the scenes and the end results of a recent workshop outing – the focus was to learn how to read the scene, select a subject, wait for the light and have the camera ready to go.