Category Archives: Teaching Photography

Photo Critiques: 3 Winners and a Dud

Photo Critiques

After shooting, the most interesting part of the junkyard night photography workshops is the afternoon critique. On day 2, each participant brings 4 images to review with the group. In a supportive environment, my co-instructor Troy Paiva and I talk about what worked, and offer ideas for improvement. Seeing how different photographers approach the wide array of subject matter in the junkyard is always a great learning experience.

Stronger Critiques

As we’ve built relationships with the photographers who’ve attend our workshops multiple times, our critique methods have evolved. Many photographers find that the feedback loop on the first night’s shooting can lead to breakthroughs on the 2nd or 3rd night of the workshop. A few people have asked us for stronger critiques, in order to accelerate the learning process.

A request for a stronger critique lets us know that the photographer isn’t worried about having their feelings hurt, and that we shouldn’t sugar-coat any criticisms of their work. We can be blunt about discussing any shortcomings in the images. At first, we were surprised that some accomplished photographers were asking us to let them have it in front of the group. This humbleness and desire to learn were so impressive, that we’ve added a new option for our critique sessions.

3 Winners and a Dud

This new critique option is called 3 Winners and a Dud. Instead of bringing their 4 best images, participants could optionally bring their 3 best, plus 1 that didn’t work. And a lot of times we collectively learn the most from the dud. Removing roadblocks by reconceptualising a really frustrating setup can often free people up to do better work.

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Teaching Photography: Role Models

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I haven’t written much about my recent adventures in teaching photography at the college level, but the video above will give you some insight into the challenges involved. After the semester is over, I’ll delve a little bit deeper into the process. For the time being, please enjoy Mr. Hand’s exemplary command of the classroom.


Oscar the Grouch -- by Joe Reifer

Oscar the Grouch — by Joe Reifer

Teaching has been a current topic on Alec Soth’s blog here, here, and especially here, and then there was a thoughtful follow up piece by Mike Johnston over on The Online Photographer. Ironically, the reason I’m writing less is that in addition to my day job in the photo biz, I’m teaching Photoshop for Photographers at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Unlike the things that apparently go on in some other photography programs, this course is a practical, career oriented, skill building affair.

As a consequence of these new duties, and the practical limits of what can be done with caffeine, my new goal will be to blog twice per week. Please do continue to stop by.