One teaches, two learn

This being “Teacher Appreciation Week” reminds me of so many photographers today who are so proudly claim to be ‘autodidacts’ so-called self-taught.

Many don’t realize that had it not been for the internet, youtube and the generosity of content creators who share their knowledge about photography, those autodidacts would be still stuck trying to get out of Automatic or Program mode.


Cameras today are that sophisticated that many camera owners don’t actually need to know the why or the how, just how to turn them on…until they hit a lighting situation when the camera’s programming fails them.

Or if they shot into the light for that stylish ‘flare’ and their clients hate the loss of saturation and they don’t know how to get the color back and get rid of the flare.

I read voraciously everything I could get my hands on about photography and I still do.

But I hit a wall at some point could go no further on my own. It wasn’t until I went to college and began my formal schooling with my late professor Charlie Brill who had a news photographer background, that I saw I had so much more to learn.

Then I learned even more when Doug Oster, a picture editor at the Medina County Gazette took a chance on me and hired me as an photo intern.

Baseball pitcher on mound–While covering slow baseball, a sport which is totally foreign to me, I had to come up with a different spin on a tired picture of a pitcher. I cocked the shutter twice without advancing the frame of film and underexposed the shot by 3 stops to come up with this image which I developed and printed to make deadline after driving from Anaheim to Riverside. Kodak TriX pushed to 1600. Probably the picture which impressed my boss at the time enough to create an opening on the staff to hire me. .

Later on still, I was fortunate to have another internship my senior year with the newspaper at the Press-Enterprise. Fred Bauman, like my work enough to create a position in their photo department when there wasn’t one.

So much of what I know I can attribute to these 3 people. Sure, I learned a lot through on the job training but the fundamentals enabled me to ‘fill in’ those gaps. The very solid foundation was there so that I could figure out and solved a lot of the problems on my own.

I know this for a fact because I was the first staff photographer to switch from film to digital even though the ‘tightwad’ boss never sent me for any sort of retraining.

Even I knew nothing about Photoshop when I made the switch, I knew enough about exposure latitude and  how to expose carefully having shot transparency film which we know today to be like shooting jpegs.

I’ve been so privileged an honored to have taught so many since 2007. I truly believe I’ve become a much better photography as a result of it after all Robert Heinlein said it best: “One teachers, 2 learns”

Do you have any fond memories of teachers? Do share them by leaving a comment below.

What was the best piece of advice from your photography teacher?

My next workshop on Lighting with Speedlights or “Small Flash Lighting” is Sat May 26th, 2018 in Riverside. If you’re interested in taking better portraits, this workshop will be an eye-opener.

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