Teaching Photography – A Humble Start.

So it finally happened. Thanks to Priyanka, for her leadership and the just do it attitude that we successfully conducted our first photography workshop today. It was a humble start. About 8 people showed interest, 4 registered for the course, 2 finally turned up :). Yes! there were two instructors and two students. In the end there were 4 satisfied souls. If you are reading this blog because you like photography – here is the pdf for the Photography Tutorial ppt (~8MB/88 slides) for you. We decided to make the presentation available online. Most of the content is self made, but we have taken some content from here and there, most of which are cited at the end. If you are interested in photography workshops – Yes, we are going to conduct more of them in future. Please email us if you are interested and we will keep you updated on it. Perhaps, you are here because you like reading what I write :D, if that infinitesimal probability event has happened then please read on.

Imagine standing at a beach. Seeing the waves hitting the shoreline, you want to get into the water. But the water is cold. Not freezing cold, but cold enough to be a deterrent. You know once you get in, your body will get used to it, but thinking about the first few steps makes you shiver. The workshop started on a similar note for me. I knew four of them had registered (over the phone) but since there was no registration fees, I was not sure how many would turn up. Priyanka was managing the registration, so I asked her, picking her up, how many are coming. She said Suraj called to say that he is. Atleast one was coming :)! …and that she is positive about Vijay too. That makes it two! Last night I had a feeling that one would be one too less for the workshop, so the figure of two was perfect. We started at around 10:15 in the morning. The first half hour went into introductions and talking about what is photography, its history, some nice anecdotes. Enough to warm us up. The pleasure of teaching kicked in. It was nice to see that they seemed happy to hear these tid bits about photography. Next, we started of talking about compositions. The basic guidelines in composing a shot – lines, shapes, angles, perspectives, color, etc. Its always fun to analyze aesthetics.  Aesthetics being at complete odds with logic in general, the idea of “analyzing aesthetics” is an oxymoron itself in my opinion. Nevertheless, there are certain basic guidelines that somehow work on average. This was kind of evident when the participants got back, after an hours worth of shooting, with the shots they said they had taken keeping these concepts in mind. Some of the shots which broke those rules, the participants themselves found to be little unpleasant.

It was getting a bit too hot and the midday sun being a bit too harsh we decided to head to Studio Chhavi for the rest of the session. The next part dealt with knowing the camera. Having being using the camera for the past six years, I had become quite comfortable with the basic concepts. However, teaching them transported me back to Spiti valley (Himachal Pradesh, 2004) when I first used an SLR camera. It was a completely manual camera, with the light meter broken.  So all the shots I took I had to ask Vishnoi and Archisman (who knew these basics) to tell me what setting they think would work for the given scene. Some of them worked some didn’t, but the joy of using a camera that had no battery, the joy of controlling the ISOs and the Apertures and the Shutter Speeds was a joy in its own right. Something similar happened at the workshop. Vijay and Suraj had heard these terms before but were completely unaware of what they meant. Once they began understanding them, their joy of understanding photography was clear in their enthusiasm to experiment with their cameras. For the next three hours we kept on going around the fundamentals. I realized that there was much more in the presentation that we could have covered today, so we decided to move about half of the material to an advanced class. Having a strong foundation in the fundamentals (Compositon, Shutter Speed, Aperture, ISO, Focus) is the most important aspect of the basics of photography in my opinion. So, we concluded with some knowledge about post-processing and how its not “cheating” to post-process the images (really its not, upto a point you think its not). Some display of our work and we ended on a note which felt like they were interested to come back for the advanced class. I think I like teaching.