Photo Corners

A   S C R A P B O O K   O F   S O L U T I O N S   F O R   T H E   P H O T O G R A P H E R

Enhancing the enjoyment of taking pictures with news that matters, features that entertain and images that delight. Published frequently.

Matinee: 'Teaching Photography' Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

1 January 2022

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 429th in our series of Saturday matinees today: Teaching Photography.

The opening shot of this 3:06 clip by Dave Clarke of Microdac in Virginia Beach, Va., captured our attention immediately. Not only was it well composed (unlike 99.7 percent of the videos posted online), but it had a terrific prop.

The prop is Beaumont Newhall's The History of Photography. Newhall and his wife Nancy were great friends of Ansel Adams (and he narrated the video on Adams we presented as the fifth in this Matinee series). His History, which was published in 1937, stands as the seminal work on the earliest days of the subject.

Clark pokes his head up from behind the book to tell us he's been asked to teach a photography course, something he's done before -- and enjoyed doing.

You could drag us into a library but you couldn't get us to crack open a book.

But not this time.

The last time he taught photography, he laments, the students complained that they didn't want to learn about Photography. They just wanted to know how to take pictures with their smartphones.

RTFM, he suggested, to use the familiar acronym. All you need to know is right there.

Of course, smartphones haven't come with manuals for some time because, as we discovered during a series of FaceTime calls with family over the holidays, young people do not read.

We already knew that. We found out when we were a young person. We didn't read. You could drag us into a library but you couldn't get us to crack open a book.

Not until some wise man, a visiting professor who had been a movie director and a novelist in his long career, took us aside one evening and told us we should read. "Why?" we persisted with the bravado of youth. "Because you can write!" he explained.

We'd never made the connection.

But today the walls of the bunker are lined with something like 2,000 books, 1,600 of them actually cataloged. And that doesn't account for the library books we've read.

What young people do is watch YouTube videos. It's what no-longer-young car owners do when some part falls off their vehicle or middle-aged homeowners do when some appliance makes funny noises. But you can also learn photography on the Internet, Clarke points out.

And, Clarke adds, it's free.

But you'll still need two things to make it work for you, he warns. We'll let him spell it out. It's as true today as it ever was and there's no avoiding it.

And we think it explains why Clarke is hiding behind Newhall's History as the video begins.

BackBack to Photo Corners