Teaching a weekend photo class. What to do?

Phydoux

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It has been suggested to me that I teach a photography class at our civic center. I know I will need to teach the basics (Manual settings, Aperture & Shutter Priority, basic composition, etc) but should I try to hire TFP models for this class or should I switch off using the students as models? Also, is it a good idea to bring them to a location away from the civic center? There's an awesome old covered bridge about 15 miles from the civic center. There's also a town square nearby where we could get some photos.

I'm thinking these classes will be 5 - 8 hour classes.

If anybody does this sort of thing please let me know what you do with your students.

Thanks!
 

480sparky

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I wouldn't think teaching the 'basics', like simple camera settings, would work well with a model shoot. I would try using a still life or landscape instead.
 

MLeeK

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First... 5 to 8 hours, one sitting of the basics is so overwhelming to a newbie that they are going to totally overload and get less out of it than you are actually able to teach.
I'd go with a 4 hour max class and multiple weeks.
For several years I did a 2 hour class 2 nights a week and it was progressive over 8 weeks. Worked beautifully. The first class was pretty intensive learning of the camera, modes and the basics. Each class from there on built on it. It was a LOT in the first class and I'd get emails and calls every time I got done with that class because we went over so much that they missed pieces.
Use the students as models. Put it in your class description that students will have the opportunity to photograph and model for each other. TFP's are not going to be incredibly happy to get beginner work for that much time working.
 
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Phydoux

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Great pointers! Thanks! I suppose I could do an 8 week class thing. Maybe teach 2 4 hour classes on Saturday. That might be fun.

Another question comes to mind, how many people should I except. I've never taught or done anything like this before. I don't want to many and be overwhelmed and I don't want to few either. I'm thinking 6-10 people would suffice in the beginning.
 

MLeeK

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It depends on the area you live in-if it's a heavily populated area you could get a LOT. If it's a rural area you are good if you get 6 to 10. It is also going to depend on how well advertised to the photography interested people in the area.
 

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I teach several classes for a photography school.

The first thing to know, is 'what is the scope of the class'? For example, is this a class that anyone can take (with any type of camera), simply to learn to take better photos? Or will this be a class only for those who have an SLR (or only a DSLR)? If you want to be teaching how to shoot in manual mode, you'll likely have to exclude those who don't have an SLR camera.

But, if you are going to teach a class for those who have a DSLR, there are plenty of other things that will probably have to be taught before/with manual exposure etc. For example, how to focus, focus modes, MF vs AF, focus points etc. Teaching them about exposure is probably the most important thing you can teach them, but for the full effect, they need to know about the three exposure settings and their consequences....so ISO/noise, shutter speed/motion-blur-sharpness and aperture/DOF.
All that may take up to 10 hours of class time. Keep in mind that you'll have to be somewhat familiar with different camera brands & models, so that you can help students when they ask camera specific questions.

So just as an example, our school has several classes. One is a very basic, 'How to take better photos'. Another is 'Using your DSLR'. Another is 'Creative Vision and Photographic Design'....and there are many more.

So my point is, you likely can't (shouldn't) just have a 'photography' class. You probably need to be more specific as to the scope/intent of the class and go with that.

Well, you can do it however you want I guess. You could just have a quick class that goes over the basics and then take them on a guided photo walk....and just answer their questions as they come up.

As for the number of students, that depends on what & how you're teaching. We like to keep most of our classes to 12-16 students, allowing for plenty of time for questions and some one-on-one attention. But we have some classes that we limit to 8 students, because of the increased amount of personal attention needed, and the space/props that are used etc.
 
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RenaissanceMan

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It has been suggested to me that I teach a photography class at our civic center. I know I will need to teach the basics (Manual settings, Aperture & Shutter Priority, basic composition, etc) but should I try to hire TFP models for this class or should I switch off using the students as models? Also, is it a good idea to bring them to a location away from the civic center? There's an awesome old covered bridge about 15 miles from the civic center. There's also a town square nearby where we could get some photos.

I'm thinking these classes will be 5 - 8 hour classes.

If anybody does this sort of thing please let me know what you do with your students.

Thanks!

1. 5 to 8 hours is RIDICULOUS! No way, Jose. 2 hours maybe. Certainly no longer than 3 hours. There are more things under heaven and earth, Horatio.
Kids to take care of, groceries to buy, that sort of thing. Save it for another day. Also, they need to use what they understood. Overloading is not effective.

2. Don't worry about a photogenic bridge. Make the location convenient, with plenty of parking, and shops nearby to grab coffee or cookies. Take pictures of bugs, trees, each other. Create interesting pictures with what is around you. Teach them about depth of field, and how it varies in front of and behind the focal point, and how it changes with f-stop. If they're taking a class in photography, chances are that few, if any of them, will be familiar with what is common knowledge among us.

3. Then stress the importance of multiple images, because as we all know, sometimes the first picture has a glitch. Maybe it's blurred or taken from the wrong distance. In these digital days, you don't have to pay for silver negatives any more. Click away.

One picture in a hundred will be really special. The others generally fall by the wayside.
 

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