This is not one of those biographies where I tell you a magical story about how I knew I wanted to be a photographer. To be perfectly honest, it wasn't until my twenties that I knew I wanted to do something creative. I was inspired by the branding designs of Paul Rand and Jacob Cass, so enrolled in college to become a graphic designer. It wasn't until I took a required “Photography for Design” course, with then Professor Todd Maisel, that photography got a tight hold on me. (Google him, you have probably seen his journalistic pictures) Taking that course made me remember seeing these phenomenal black and white photos of San Francisco in an office and wanting similar photographs of New York City. After that, I took every photography class I could while finishing my degree.
A few years, classes, millions of pictures, thousands of YouTube videos later, I’m happy to say that I have more than a few great pictures of New York City to hang and spreading the knowledge on how to take those shots is actually fulfilling. Teaching for the Meetup group (and more recently, Adorama) gives me the opportunity to find new places to shoot, as well as keep that passion for the next great shot. And that passion isn't going away anytime soon.
If I've learned anything by teaching photography, it's that people think photography is all about the gear. Is digital photography extremely technical? It can be, and getting caught up in the technical aspects might distract you from the artistic qualities. My approach to teaching is to first help people identify different aspects of a photograph. A lot of people don't even bother with this, but if you constantly ask people what it is about a photography that they like or dislike, you'll hear things like "I don't know. I just like it" or "It's just really nice". While this is flattering about a picture you're looking at, it doesn't help you take pictures you want to look "really nice". After identifying what makes a picture "a great photograph", I like to take a Cause and Effect approach. Learning the buttons on your camera can be done by watching a YouTube video, but learning what these settings will do to an image is best learned by getting away from you computer and changing the settings on the pictures you take. You'll always hear me repeating that you will never forget about a specific setting, until you screw up a great shot because of it, and I stand by that. (Oh the things I remember because of some horrible shots!) After helping you see what makes a great image and a little training to know your way around a DSLR, you'll see how easy it can be to create great images.