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I wanted to teach photography again.

For those that don’t know me… Hi! I’m Brian, and I’m a recovering Competition addict. Long story, and maybe another day. I’m also a former Photographic Instructor. I used to teach little seminars for myself and the local photographers, then I spoke for Florida Professional Photographers, I even taught at Florida School, which… isn’t the same anymore from what I hear. Oh, I also taught a Fall Seminar. I even spoke for the Ohio Professional Photographers! It was great. Three hours, me, a stool and a microphone. I told them my story, only 2 people out of about 300 left. One felt so bad… she found me later to apologize. If I remember it right… her child was sick at school. Anyway… that was about eight or so years ago. Feels like a lifetime away.

At that time, I was going through a major life change. I’d done it actually, but the realization hadn’t caught up to me yet. It’s going to sound sappy, but, I found love, real love for the first time in my life. And… you’re damn right I married that girl. Sadly, I had to leave someone else behind to do it. No matter how right you think something is, it’s never easy to hurt someone, or it shouldn’t be. Point is, I spent a lot of time away from home, among other people, teaching them what I know, partially so I wouldn’t have to deal with my own problems. At least, I think that’s why.

One day, I was judging for a Professional Photographer’s group in Florida. Derica, my wife and I were both judging actually. I saw images there that, to be honest, shouldn’t be in Print Competition, let alone come from Professional Photographers. It was disheartening. Now, of course, there were many, many great images, obviously representing those with some experience. That’s the funny thing about Print Competition, you can always tell someone who is entering for the first time.

I’m a pretty harsh judge, but… I’m not afraid to back up my opinions. I also fight for images that I think are great. I seem to remember this one photo though… of a woman. Her eyes were…. wrong. They just looked so overdone, so digitized. I thought, for sure, this is someone new at the game, or new to Photoshop, so I’ll be nice. After the judging, we had time to go over some images, and I wanted to talk about that one. As it turns out, not only was it an experienced Photoshop user, it was an experienced competitor! Someone who has actually earned a perfect score on a print in State level Competition. I tried really hard to hide my disappointment, and talked instead about the unnatural eyes. The artist’s reaction will forever be burned into my memory, “You taught me to do that.”. To my knowledge, I have never taught anyone to make a person’s eyes look that way. Even if I did, I would think, as an artist, that personal taste would prevail and you’d make appropriate adjustments to make something look…. good.

That day I died a little inside. That day I made a decision to cut back on teaching, and to be really careful who I did teach. If an experienced artist couldn’t understand how and when to apply techniques, how can I possibly educate someone new to this? I blamed myself.

I’ve since come to realize that it wasn’t my fault. Instead, I’ve learned a basic truth about people. They don’t want to be taught, generally. Most people want an “Instant Win” button that makes them a Master Photographer overnight. They don’t want to have to spend time learning something, they want to push that button and “BAM” there it is… a masterpiece. It just doesn’t work that way, and I don’t think the majority of the population is ready to accept that.

There’s a reason the best way to be a photographer is to work alongside one. It’s because there are so many nuances to…. EVERYTHING about photography, so many compromises, so many choices, that without some experience, you’ll choose poorly. Without some prior knowledge, you’ll blindly do what someone else did, or what you thought they did, and when it doesn’t work, you’ll blame them, instead of your own lack of experience or thought.

So, in the years since that day, I’ve considered getting back into teaching many times. Every single time, I haven’t pursued it because of that fateful day when someone with as much experience as myself, blamed me for their mistake, because they failed to understand the technique and instead pushed a button. No, I will not be going on the road, teaching at PPA, FPP, or any of the myriad acronyms out there for Professional Photographers. No, instead, I’m going to carve out my own little corner of the world right here, and fill it with my words.

Before you read anything that I might post on this blog, please, please, use your brain just a little. Don’t take everything verbatim and try to apply it. Photography is not a blunt instrument, it’s a fine tool. When just the right amount of pressure is applied, amazing things can be done. Also, in the event that you fail at what you attempt, keep one thing in mind, “Only you can succeed or fail.”. I’m just here to teach.
I’m well aware this isn’t funny, or even remotely sarcastic, but it’s my truth, and something I’ve wanted to say for a long time. The fact that Derica and myself run our business for a living leaves me with little time to go out and try teaching again, so instead, I can find a little time here and there to write articles, maybe even try out that new fangled video thing, who knows? Regardless… thanks for listening, and enjoy.