How To Continue Your Photographic Education
(Tutors Can Help)
by William Lulow
I’ve had several one-to-one teaching situations recently that have proved to be extremely helpful to the students involved. I’ve conducted these sessions where I go on a “field trip” with the student and we both photograph the same thing and then compare notes. First, the students are able to see the equipment I bring, how I set it up and finally the results achieved. It is a kind of continuing discussion of the various “whys” in terms of set ups, exposure calculations, focus issues and “previsualizing.” This is the way to teach technique.
In the old days, if you wanted to learn how photographs were made, you had to work for a photographer who rarely explained anything. You had to learn by observing them work and then figuring out the “whys.” When you saw the results (often I was the one developing and printing the film), you could see how the lighting setups worked to produce intended results. Many times, I was a part of fairly complicated lighting arrangements. In one instance, while we were shooting some fashion on an 8×10 view camera, I had to keep an eye on several large power packs which controlled the main light flash output. If just one of the packs did not fire, the result would often be a ¼ stop light difference, which, when you are shooting 8×10 sheets of film, could be a big difference. In another instance, I often had to take film to the lab and wait for it to be processed. One of the guys at the lab then took me aside and showed me how to correct for certain color shifts that had affected the film.
This type of “education” is the most valuable. The “hands on” approach is the best way to teach anything. The students get to see for themselves what the teachers are talking about. They get to “play” with the equipment, move it around and see, first hand, what it can do. You can read all the books you want (certainly recommended), but there is no substitute for the interactive approach.
Here I am demonstrating to a large group of teenagers, how to use an enlarger. I was so enamored with the idea of teaching that I actually got a Masters Degree in Education and taught photography for ten years at New York’s New School for Social Research and another ten years for the New York City Department of Education. I continue to teach both privately and through workshops.