Why I Decided to Take a Photography Class

   My blog is called "Making a Scene" for a reason. I continuously encourage people to go out and "Make a Scene" for a reason. This blog was intended to be an avenue for my photography. It is something I enjoy doing and I believe I am at least slightly proficient at. When I snap an image, I believe I am making a scene. Of course I talk about other things too because I myself enjoy reading blogs that are diverse. Perhaps that is the wrong way to run a blog, but that's a topic for another discussion.
   On this blog I have posted some knowledge on photography basics aimed at teaching people how to use their camera. I have stopped for a bit because I went to Japan but I will be writing more of those posts in the future. Today I went to my second beginners photography class and so the question I would naturally ask someone is, "How can you teach the subject if you are taking the class?" So I will explain and for that we must go back to the 90's!

   This is not my first photography class. Middle school is where I became interested in photography. I had seen a film in the 90's about a young guy who documents his odd family using a 35mm film camera. What movie you ask? None other than the movie, "Pecker." For all it's absurdity, the movie really got me interested in photography, and more importantly, photo journalism. I didn't know what it was called at the time, but I knew I liked that he was making images about what happens around him in his life. I was not a rich kid though and when I went to look for a good starting camera, all I saw were 3 and 4 digit numbers. Digital photography was barely taking off in the early 2000s and film cameras were still in very high demand. This meant that film cameras (unlike today) were still relatively expensive, and digital cameras (being new technology) were even more out of my price range.
   So I did what I could with what I had. My mom had bought me a weird little Sony camera one Christmas and that is what I had I think all the way through high school. In fact I probably still have it somewhere. Other than that I never would have dreamed I could have picked up a real DSLR but the itch was always in the back of my mind. With that little camera, and later cell phones, I knew I was making pretty cool looking images, but I never really had any formal training.
   Fast forward a little bit to high school. Now is my one chance to actually get some formal training in photography. I sign up for my school's photo journalism class and I am excited and ready. But of course, this class was a let-down for a few reasons. Let me begin by saying that the photojournalism teacher was probably one of the sweetest ladies you would have ever met. She and I really got along. For whatever reason she could see more in my photography than even I could and she always encouraged me to do more.
   It is very unfortunate that I went to high school in somewhere like my hometown, at least in terms of photography though. In a town where art was rarely ever a high priority, schools allocated less and less funds to the creative classes. As such, my photography class had enough money only for basic point and shoots. A caveat: GEAR DOES NOT MAKE THE PHOTOGRAPHER. But what point and shoots do not allow you to do is learn. Point and shoots are great for snapshots or for learning things like composition, but for anyone seriously wishing to learn, a point and shoot cannot give you the control you need. So I was stuck reading theory from a text book and never being able to practice that theory.
   But that isn't the only reason this class was a let down. As I stated before, the town I grew up in did not have a very strong artistic culture. Not much art comes from there. There are great works of art which have come from my home town, but it is not really known to be a hub of artistic talent. Because of this, the general attitude towards creativity was muted at best and discouraged more often. Those of my peers who were taking the class were simply taking the class for an easy A. Trying to concentrate and be creative in an environment like that was incredibly difficult.
   With all that said, I learned next to nothing. A few nuggets of theory stuck in my brain but it would have been just the same had I not taken the class. It wasn't until after high school that I really started picking up photography. By this time DSLRs had dropped dramatically in price, especially used ones, and information was all over the internet. Plus I had my own job and could afford to buy what I needed to learn. As soon as I realized I could learn photography myself I was a glutton for information much as I am for any other topic I am interested in. (I read a lot.)
   This is where I explain why I am taking a beginner photography class even though I have already been paid for my photography. (Kind of backwards right?) The first reason is quite simple. Just like a native Chinese speaker taking a beginning Mandarin class, I simply wanted an easy A. But beyond that I don't think it is ever safe to say you are completely the best at anything you have learned. Think about it, if that were true, then innovation would be stuck at the invention of the wheel. But instead because someone learned how to make a wheel (perhaps from the inventor) that person then went on to learn more about it ultimately ending up in your Toyota Prius today. All because someone said, "Yeah, I know all about this wheel, but I want to learn more about it." There are always things you don't know and things you didn't know you didn't know. For that reason I am filling in the gaps in my knowledge in this class. Perhaps I will come away with no new knowledge, but how will I know if I never took a class? Even if this class improves my photography by only 1%, it was well worth it. My last reason for taking the class is structured assignments and breaking me out of my photography comfort zone. I will be forced to do things like studio work which I learned to loathe. But I am now looking forward to it just to get the rust out of those particular set of gears in my creativity.

   So to sum this all up, I am taking a photography class as a nice little refresher. This is not my major in school (bless the poor souls who are going for art degrees) my major is actually computer science. But it is something I plan to continue doing professionally or semi-professionally in the future along side my other career goals. Beyond that I just simply enjoy it. I enjoy writing my blog, I enjoy teaching about photography where I can, and I enjoy making a scene for you, my readers, about the things I see. This should be as much of an adventure for you as it is for me.