Friday, September 29, 2006

Getting the Most Out of Your Photo Class, Part: 2

Educate yourself. Sometimes it is difficult to find the motivation to study and to work and to contemplate, but eventually you will come to the place where you develop a passion for something. (I'm hoping it might be photography.) There will come a time, probably toward the end of your college carrier, when you begin to realize you actually enjoy your classes, and it's not about making grades anymore, but rather it becomes more about developing yourself. You have found what you love, what makes you want to work and study and contemplate. Hopefully as an educator I can lead you down the right path, or give you some motivation to get you started, but eventually the training wheels come off and you set out on your own. I'm betting there will be friends and colleagues along the way to share in your journey, but you will set the directions and course of your life.

As that relates to photography, I STRONGLY SUGGEST that you begin to investigate resources that pique your interests and develop your knowledge (about photography). So here's a list of resources that I have found helpful:
1. Books...especially free ones (photo books are found in the TR 600's at the library!!!)
2. Magazines...especailly those that discuss ideas and content (about photography) and not just the technical stuff
3. Shows in local or nearby galleries and museums (of photography)
4. Lectures...the Robert C. May lectures at UK are an incredible opportunity to hear from important artist-photographers (UK, you don't know how lucky you are!)
5. The World Wide Web...there have to be countless sites about photography that are only a click away
6. Friends, colleagues, and mentors...who share the same passions as you (perhaps about photography) and keep you accountable to your own personal work

You can see where I'm going with this. The point is some day you will take the reins and follow your passions. What I'm suggesting is that you prepare yourself by laying out a road map of sorts that will help lead and guide you on your way. Take advantage of the resources you have now so you can make educated decisions and preparations for the life that's ahead of you.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Show Me the Money!!!

I read an interesting article in the June 2006 issue of PDN (Photo District News) entitled, "Salary Survey: Who Earns What." The article surveyed photographers to see what type of salaries they made. The results were very interesting, especially for those of us who would like to make a living with our camera.

Out of the 1040 photographers surveyed, the mean (average) salary was $95,000, while the median (middle) was $57,500. That's not too bad. The thing I find most interesting was the breakdown of who's making what in terms of their specialty, ESPECIALLY since I teach photography in Fine Art departments. (I guess the starving artist saying has some truth to it.)

According to this survey, Fine Art Photographers generate the lowest incomes. (PDN's quote says, "...pity the fine-art photographers, who obviously get up in the morning for reasons other than money.") By comparison, Advertising Photographers definitely bring home the bacon. Also to point out, "Consumer" refers to wedding and portrait photographers.

Obviously money is not the end all be all. But, it does force you to begin to think about where you're headed as a photographer. If this is to be your vocation, what do you need to do to make a living? What skills do you need to have in the working world? What can you do to stand out in the crowd and do well for yourself?

These are difficult questions, but ones that you can hopefully begin to answer by the end of your educational career! And hopefully questions I can help you solve and prepare for as a teacher.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Getting the Most Out of Your Photo Class, Part: 1

Become an extrovert. To a certain degree, this is a true statement. It seems to me that the people who get the most out of a class are those who speak up, ask questions, and/or make an effort to get personal discussions with the professor.

Unfortunately, on many occasions I don't feel like I get the time or opportunity to give people the attention they deserve during class. Large class sizes or time constraints often cause individual critiques to run short. As a result, some students feel left out. My recommendation is to schedule a time where we can look at your work one on one and get personalized feedback.

I remember one time when a student asked me to take a look at some of her contact sheets. It was a great opportunity to discuss which images stood out and why. We talked about technical and compositional issues as well as ideas and directions for her work. That meeting seemed to be a springboard for a whole series of strong work with a more focused direction.

Your classmates are another invaluable resource, especially those with some years of photographic art making under their belt. Get in the habit if showing others your work and getting opinions (technically and aesthetically). Don't be shy; artwork is meant to be seen.

In conclusion, your photo class will be what you make it. Don't expect someone else to do it for you. Be proactive and take responsibility for your photographic future.