"Why do you teach? Don't you get tired of showing people how to set a shutter speed, or what depth of field means, over and over again?"
I am asked this question quite often, mostly by experienced photographers who seem unwilling to share their ideas or skills. I've always found this odd; theirs is a competitive, narrow viewpoint that I do not share.
The answer to the question above is a definite “No!” I do not get tired of it. You might even say I teach photography for purely selfish reasons. As a professional photographer, I take photographs every day, most often to satisfy a commercial need for someone else. Over the years, I found myself straying a long way from my reasons for becoming a photographer - my love of the “art” in photography, my enjoyment of the need to be in a particular place to make my work. I no longer picked up a camera for my own purposes and I realized one day I had not taken a single personal photo in years. When I started teaching over 10 years ago, I rediscovered my joy in photography - the challenge of new situations, learning new technology through a beginner’s eyes, and new insights from personal life experience that influenced my way of interpreting the world through a lens. Through teaching, I am able to share all of this; I experience photography every day, and discover new ways of creating photographs to help others learn.
Additionally, through teaching, I better understand my own work; I dissect it - examining my technique or contemplating my intent behind an image - and I explore historic and alternate methods of image creation. I study the work of other photographers like I never have before. Finally, and most importantly, I see teaching as “giving back”... when I first picked up a camera and made many amateur (and embarrassing!) mistakes, there were photographers who kindly shared tips and ideas, who mentored me, and who influenced my work to bring me to where I am today. Seeing a new photographer suddenly understand depth of field, or attending a first photographic exhibition of one of my advanced students brings me back to my own photographic journey, of fond memories of learning and discovery.
So, why do I patiently explain camera settings over and over and over again? Silly question.
Courses and workshops are held at my studio in downtown Fergus, in the historic Fergus Marketplace building, central to Guelph, Kitchener, Orangeville and the Toronto area. This large venue has the space for practical work during class time, while it's location close to the Grand River and the Elora Gorge make it an exceptional starting point for field trips and photo walks.
Can't make it to an in-class program, or live too far away? Classes are also offered on-line, in recognition of varied schedules and distances. In addition to regular programming, private or semi-private lessons can be scheduled.
Registration policies: Registrations can be made on-line or by phone...use the link under each course description. Fees must be paid at the time of registration, either with Paypal, credit card, or by e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org. For cancellations made more than one week before the start date, registrants will receive a full refund, minus a 20% administration fee. For any cancellations received after this period, up until 24 hours before the course start time, you will receive a credit towards another class. No refunds or credits for cancellations within 24 hours of the course start.
Sylvia Galbraith has been an Associate Professor in the Commercial Photography Certificate Program at Conestoga College in Kitchener, ON since 2011 and has worked on program development for most of the courses on offer. She continues in that role at the Doon Campus, but has introduced similar college-level courses through her studio in Fergus, which are listed in the Course Calendar. More information on the Conestoga program can be found on the Conestoga College website.