I need ideas, Rec center classes


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Oct 7, 2013
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South Lyon Michigan
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My local rec center has asked me to put on classes for the community, most will own a dslr and I am trying to think of ideas. They want 2-3 hour 1 day classes. I'm thinking composition, but then manual mode might be too big a topic for a 3 hour class....Any help will ideas would be appreciated as I am thinking the extra money will be welcome in the winter.
For me it would be light basics. Importance of it in photos and guidelines related to camera setting.

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I don't feel you can create a plan when you have little to no idea who will be taking the class. "Most will own a DSLR" means some will not. And of those who do, you can only count on a certain, small percentage of those people who will want to know how to venture beyond the little icons of the fully automatic modes. Their interests are rather mundane I would guess and do not cover subjects such as, say, sunsets in the Rocky Mountains.

Those "typical" DSLR and compact users will have a kit lens with a reasonably short zoom and see the zoom as a way to not worry about how the shot could look. They probably are unaware of aperture changes when they zoom the lens. They have probably never used manual focus and may not even know it exists on their lens. I would guess many do not know you can change focus points and narrow focus or widen it or why you would want to do any of that. They've probably never sat down with their camera and their owner's manual. For those who have them, I would request they bring their manual to the class for specific references to how their specific camera operates. Unless you're very well versed in the numerous manufacturers products and the multiple variations in operation found from camera to camera, you'll otherwise find yourself saying they will have to work it out themself, which is not what these students will want to hear.

I would say it's debatable how many DSLR users you'll speak to in this class who are looking for help with their overall skills. Probably more looking for help with their specific camera and understanding why they can't get group family photos to focus everyone or come out either under or over exposed.

I'd say you need to look at a very basic how to book on photography and plan on covering those same topics in that same order unless you are assured your students are all advanced in photography before they arrive. You might want to head to your local library and select a how to book which you can suggest to the class members if they want more information after leaving this class.

Whenever you go into a teaching situation with such broad amounts of uninformed students you are going to disappoint those who feel you've talked over their heads and those who feel you did not address their specific questions.

In this case, I'd draw up a very brief survey of who your students will be and what their experience level is. Ask if they are looking for specific answers to specific questions or overall assistance understanding their camera and/or photography. While it doesn't exactly sound like it is ground you must cover in a three hour class, some will likely have no idea how to use software to process their images. Suggesting Photoshop/Lightroom to someone with a basic camera and a need for snaps of the new grandchild is not going to be helpful IMO. Have some good basic and free processing suggestions.

Many are likely to have questions regarding how to use their new camera for photos of the new baby or a vacation they have scheduled, which means you should cover flash to some extent. And available light. And shots of cityscapes and small cafes at night. That in itself could take up three hours plus.

You are in a bit of a Catch 22 in that most people considering such a class will want a brief description of what will be covered. Yet, you can't know what you will cover until you know who will be taking the class and how to best serve their needs. If you draw up a plan that includes subjects such as manual exposure, you're going to scare away all but the most ardent photographer looking for very specific answers. That's sort of like intending to teach your first time guitar class (who won't even know how to tune their instrument) how to create extended riffs, licks and solos using the Mixolydian mode pentatonic of the B flat minor key signature.

Personally, I'd make it clear this was an "overview" class intended for a certain range of experience.
I would aim for those folks who own a DSLR but shoot on full auto now and broaden the scope to allow non-DSLR users some interest. These are the people buying cameras today rather than simply using their smart phones. Teaching a class for smart phone camera users is a totally different subject. Teaching an advanced photography class geared to the more seasoned DSLR user is definitely a different class.

If you have a local camera shop, stop by and tell them you are going to teach a class. Ask them what their most common questions are and how they address them.
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My local rec center has asked me to put on classes ..
How many different classes? I presume the participants will be charged a fee. What have other classes done?
Here is an example of classes held at a local camera store in my area. I took DSLR 1, worth the $30 bucks. I registered for 2 and 3 as well. DSLR classes are 2 hours, $30 in advance, $35 at door. Lightroom is 5 hours $75 in advance, $80 at door. Hope it helps you.

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I think soufiej nailed it. When you know a lot about something it is easy to overestimate how much beginners know and what they can learn in a short time. Stick to the basics unless you find out most of the students are not complete beginners, which is unlikely.
Make sure your class lists the requirements for the attendee.
Which is a dSLR, and/or mirrorless.
otherwise you might be surprised at what people show up with.

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