Me as photography instructor? Surely you jest.

The thought of me teaching photography is something I never imagined I would ever do. The idea that my images and photographic knowledge would ever be at a level where someone would actually request my instruction seemed ludicrous. Hell would likely freeze over first. Or so I thought…

Well, it looks like the Stanley Cup is in Hades this year.

Several months ago blogger Nate Bush contacted me to ask if I would be willing to teach him how I made my waterfall images. We had been following each others blogs for a while, I enjoy his  blog because it allows me to vicariously visit places I will probably never see in person. I wish I was as adventurous when I was his age.

Nate wanted to know if I would be willing to show him the ins and outs of my waterfall images. Tips, tricks, camera, lenses, settings, the works. To say I had serious reservations about my abilities as an instructor would be an understatement!

Yes, I know my way around my camera, and I’m proud of the images I create with it, but could I teach someone else how to do it? Sure I’ve given friends help with learning how to use their new dslr, but all that proves is that I can read a manual and use a mechanical device, not that I can teach. Could I teach both the technical aspects of photography, along with the artistic side, in a meaningful way? Would I be able I offer a learning experience that would be worth Nate’s, or any other potential student’s, time and effort?

I had a lot of thinking to do before saying yes.

During the time leading up to my final decision to give it a try, there was one nagging thought in the back of my mind. Was I really that good? Good enough to even consider offering instruction? I still look in awe at so many other “established” photographers and can’t help but think I’ll never be in their league. But what the heck, Nate has hiked all over the world, if he is brave enough to be my first student, how could I say no?

You talk too fast.

I’m not going to go into details about what I taught, I’ll save that for another time, but based on the images Nate made, I have to say I was at least partly successful in passing on some of the knowledge I have. Suffice it to say, after a few tips on composition, shutter speed, and aperture, Nate was off and running. A few of the images Nate made last Saturday can be seen, here and here. You can also see more of Nate’s other work on his photography blog, NBush Photography. Based on the images I’ve seen, I think young Mr. Bush was sand-bagging, and didn’t really need that much help. I still like to think I did help a little though.

I have no idea if teaching workshops is something I plan to pursue in the future, but one thing I learned from Nate as I asked him if the experience was worth his time, “You talk too fast.” was the one thing that stuck in my mind. Thanks for that Nate, I knew I talked too much, but not that I talked too fast. Good to know 😀

48 thoughts on “The Teacher In Me.

    1. Thank you Joy! I’m finding it hard to believe that after only four years with a camera I’m the one being asked, not the one doing the asking!

  1. Nice shot, Jeff! I like the smooth and silky effect of the waterfall. I totally can agrees with you when someone asked you to teach, often it’s not easy to make the decision. All the best, cheers!

    1. Thanks Paul. You’re right, how does a person know when they are ready? The real test will come when and if I start asking for payment for a workshop with me. Not sure I would even want to go that far. Teaching might take too much time away from shooting 😀

  2. Your photos never cease to amaze me. In fact I thought your were a professional photographer when I started following your blog. I think you explain things very well and are just a helpful person by nature, so I think you would be awesome at photography workshops!! Just saying…

  3. 🙂 I am looking forward to seeing your student’s photos 🙂 This is a big milestone in your photographic career and as for your bewilderement about why he chose you, there is no doubt why… your photos are a proof enough. I don’t know how fast you talk but judging by how fast you write I bet I sound as if on speed ;).
    When one teaches it is important to talk slowly and to give time to the student to absorb what you are saying. I noticed that when hubby tried to teach me both the basics on pc and camera, and at the end I would loose my nerve and learn things by myself… this is how I ended up as being self-taught these days ;).

    1. Thank you Paula, I know I can talk a lot, get me talking about photography, or any other subject that interests me, and you can’t shut me up! Ask my wife, my friends, people who’ve only just met me… 😀

      But I never realized I talked too fast. And you couldn’t be more right, I need to slow it down, and make sure the person I’m teaching is getting everything. I remember being in their shoes, being on information overload when trying to take it all in.

      One last thing, you have a very good teacher in you 😉

      1. Don’t beat yourself up about talking too fast 😉 you proved to be exceptionally good judging from what Nate uploaded after your trip 🙂
        I used to teach English for 7 years 😉 and I have some teaching experience that is probably helping me to teach myself now 😉 😀

        1. Not sure how well teaching English translates into teaching photography, I’m more inclined to think you simply have a very intelligent student 😀

  4. I’ve just seen your student’s pics :D. Did he use your equipment too to make those shots? Judging from his previous posts and displayed photos you have taught him a great deal in your first tutorial. This kind of work and dedication should be rewarded!!!! Above I was also talking (writing) too fast and I wrote “I” instead of “you” in the first comment ;)… I did not get much sleep after all. Have fun this weekend Jeff!

    1. He did not, he used all his own gear. He looked at my lcd once or twice to get an idea of what I was going for composition wise, but those images are all his doing. After seeing the second one of his on his lcd, you have no idea how badly I wanted to put my tripod exactly where his was.

      Sorry to hear you didn’t sleep well 😦

      1. In that case you had an eager student and you were one hell of inspiring teacher 😀
        Some idiot decided to open a bar with live music a few meters away from my building and they were making the most annoying and loud noise till 2 am :(… and I am used to getting up at 7 am Saturdays so not nearly enough sleep….

        1. I’m sorry to hear that. Did I tell you I live in the “sticks.”

          The only party noise I have to worry about are the cows on the dairy farm up the road 😉

          1. I wish I could live in the sticks, though those cows can stink up the place pretty badly. I remember my holiday on a farm two summers ago 😀

                1. Plus I get to hear wild turkeys and coyotes in the evening, you never know when a moose or black bear may cross the road in front of me. Cities are fine for a visit, a short visit, but I would go stir crazy if I couldn’t get into the woods by basically stepping out my front door.

    1. I’ll throw you over my shoulder and run like hell. You will of course be expected to be taking photos of the bear the whole time 😉 I’ll try to hold you steady.

        1. No worries, I’ll have gotten my shots BEFORE I grab you to run 😀 You on the other hand will wish I could have carried you much more steadily so your shots came out better 😉

                  1. You are the best teacher ever!!!! If only I could get you to press my shutter button for me as well :D. I really appreciate your interest in my camera 🙂

  5. If I ever wanted help Jeff I’d most certainly be coming to you. After all, anyone who produces pics like yours must know what they’re up to! 🙂

  6. Thanks for the compliments you gave me here, Jeff! You certainly did help me out! For instance, remember those waterfall shots I took at home and had you take a look at before we met-up in NH? They are nowhere even close to the ones we took together using your help with the settings on my camera/ reading the histogram, etc. I’ve since deleted those original waterfall shots from my blog and plan to go re-shoot them haha.

    You are also really out-going, friendly, and personable, which are all great qualities for teachers. I’d say its a major compliment that the only real piece of constructive feedback I could think of was that you could definitely slow down your talking a little! If you choose to persue it, I think you’d make a great teacher, not only because your student would come out of it with great photographs, but because they would still have fun even if they didnt.

    1. Thanks Nate! I’m really glad you were able to come away with something useful.

      You should use those earlier photos when you write a blog post saying how great a teacher I am. 😀

      Seriously, I would write something about what you learned and how you put it to use. Mentioning me is totally optional, but your followers might be interested. At the rate you’re going it won’t be too long before someone is asking you for help! 😉

      1. Hahaha, I’ve been meaning to actually. No internet access in Maine, besides a quick stop in the library to publish a photograph, has put a damper on my writing of long-ish posts. Luckily I just got home and have nothing to do tomorrow, though!

  7. All great, but really love the 3rd with the rock rounding out the lower right. Even though it fills a decent size of the frame, I still feel like I see more in that photograph. And as they say, you don’t know anything until you can teach it, something which I have found to true over and over again. I think a major reason is because you have to put all those “tips” or “tendencies” that you do into clear language and it allows you to realize them fully. Great post, Jeff.

    1. You are so right Brandon. Having to teach the things I do on “auto pilot” was the hardest part. Half the things I do I just don’t think about anymore. F-stop, f8 – f16, focus 1/3 into the scene, adjust aperture, shutter speed, ISO, to get the look I want in the water. The how is easy, that’s just knowing how to use the camera. Putting the “why” into words in a meaningful way, that’s a bit different.

  8. Of all your posts I thought this one should be singled out for your unselfish help to share your knowledge … it reveals the man behind the camera 🙂

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