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The bottling of lightning versus that of thunder | by Zeb Andrews
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The bottling of lightning versus that of thunder

I am holding a lot of various live wires in my hands at the moment, or in other words, a number of different things are on my mind that I have just not spliced into a single coherent thread just yet. So I am not going to try and instead just lay them out as they are and let you find the coherency. I am pretty sure it is there somewhere.

 

They all deal with teaching.

 

So far this year I have taught two classes with Newspace and three private workshops on my own.

 

On my schedule I have two more for Spring, and seven this Summer. Throw in an additional two with Exposure Northwest and the latest e-mail from Newspace slotting me for three more and I have five scheduled in the Fall, and ... I am busy.

 

Teaching is hard.

 

It is like bottling lightning. But it's not. I think it is actually more like bottling thunder.

 

I think there is a parallel between teaching and doing photography. It is easy to learn the basic fundamentals and technical abilities of both. It is much more difficult to excel beyond that limit.

 

I have been seriously pursuing the photography bug that bit me for a bit over 8 years now at last count. It is only in the last couple of years that I feel like I am hitting my creative stride. I have been teaching for a bit over two years. I am getting more comfortable with it, but I realize I have a long way to go yet.

 

On Wednesday I start my five week Fundamentals of Photography class. I think it is going to be exciting.

 

My definition of fundamentals is different from many others I suspect. Many would define fundamentals as knowing what a shutter is. I think it is knowing what vision is.

 

With that in mind, this is going to be an interesting class.

 

I got to write my first class syllabus. That somehow feels like a benchmark for me.

 

Teaching a group of people on one day workshops is frustrating. Frustrating because it is so hard to impart some of the most important things I believe regarding photography to people I hardly know, will hardly get to know and only get to see for a single day. Something like that takes weeks. Nonetheless, I try my hardest.

 

I have trouble photographing on workshops I teach. Part of it is an attention thing. I am paying so much attention to my students it is hard to concentrate on seeing the pictures of my own. But part of it is feeling like I take whatever fuel that fires my photography and wring it out of myself to give to others, and I end the day feeling drained. I guess that is a good thing.

 

I think of teaching as a responsibility of purpose. You figure that out.

 

I enjoy it. In not too dissimilar a way from how I enjoyed long distance running. Always exhausting, sometimes painful, very rewarding. Teaching pushes me to my limits.

 

After reading about him as a teacher, I wish I could have taken a class from Minor White. At the least, it would have been interesting.

 

I don't teach people to help them take better pictures. I teach them to become better photographers. Better pictures make the day more worthwhile. Becoming a better photographer makes your career and life more worthwhile.

 

Before I got into photography I got my degree in history. I was months shy of applying to the graduate teaching program to teach middle school or high school history. Some of this now makes more sense.

 

Back to the thunder and lightning analogy. Lightning dazzles the eyes, but thunder is what you feel in your bones. I would hope to be able to teach in that manner.

 

This is perhaps the first cloudscape shot that I took that made me think of this cloudscape series. Shot on Fuji Velvia over the Rose Festival Fun Center one evening. The skies were great but I could not find anything terrestrial to pair them with, so I composed purely of the sky. Seeing the slides on the light table a week or so later struck the idea for this series in me.

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Uploaded on April 27, 2010