The last year I’ve challenged myself to step out of my comfort zone, put myself in front of large audiences and share my knowledge with anyone and everyone. Last week I had the opportunity to guest teach year 9 Photography Students at Pudsey Grangefield High School. As a keen ambassador for art & photography to be available in education, I was more than happy to grab this challenge and introduce some of my photography & post production skills to the pupils, but more importantly challenge the pupils to discover their own creativity rather than focus too much on the skill-set. Art in education has had a rough ride over the last year with more ‘academic’ subjects forcing creativity out of our schools and I feel the curriculum needs to allow for more creativity and ingenuity in the classroom. The idea of the day was to encourage the pupils to become creative in photography, collaborate with each other and try new skills. I wanted them to worry less about camera settings and more about creative ideas and I was seriously impressed with what they came up with. We broke the day into four sections, each category allowed the pupils to try something different and experiment both in front of the camera and with their post productions skills on Photoshop.
I personally valued my time as a student learning photography and I still regard amateurs and hobbyists with high opinions today. I've never made the conscious decision to become a professional, nor did I ever assume I had become one, at heart I'm still the student photographer. I still have the enormous passion and motivation to create photographs that came about when I first stepped foot in college. As a 'professional', now I know the hidden advantages of being an amateur/student. I had every piece of equipment to hand and thanks to college & university, I had the freedom to capture what and when I wished. I experimented with my photographs and subjects, took risks and changed my technique without any concern of timescales and budgets.
The last piece of advice I shared with the pupils at Pudsey Grangefield High School, is to always think about their digital footprint. Your digital footprint is the mark you leave on digital and social media platforms. This is something I would advise all student photographers out there to take 5 minutes to think about.
Every time you post an image on Facebook, update your website, upload on Instagram and write a blog post, it builds up your mark on the internet. Your audience will start to build a vision of your brand and/or photography, even if you're a student, so make sure your work is consistent throughout.
Sure you can easily delete all the those selfies you posted on Instagram and the horrible watermarks you pasted across your Facebook Uploads, but your audience will loose faith and more than likely stop viewing your work, so keep in mind your digital footprint when starting out on social media and the internet.
Below are some of the images the pupils captured on the day, I challenged them to create various creative portraits using the 3 topics below:
- Long Exposure Portrait
- Be creative with filters
- Create their own unique Portrait
Finally as part of my own proffesional development, I asked the pupils firstly if I were to return, which genre/topic/skill they would most like me to teach them about. Secondly, I also asked them if the day had inspired them to capture more portraits and if they could see a career in photography.