Over the past couple of years I have endured the scare of an coronary aortal aneurism and open heart surgery, two knee repair surgery’s and a knee replacement…all the while attending college in an attempt to graduate before my forty year deadline. My desire to carry my camera and photograph and record everything I felt important or interesting, began to diminish with the increase of the pain caused by extended periods of recovery. The mental strain caused periods of depression, which is still a battle that can cause a lack of desire to photograph.
Recently, less than a year after graduating from Southern Oregon University with a bachelor’s degree in communication/photojournalism, I have been honored by that same department with a position as the adjunct professor position for Photojournalism. As the movie says “The gods must be crazy!”
OK now I need to create the perfect environment, class and experience for the students. One that will inspire them to…greatness?…well at least the same level of desire and commitment that I feel every time I pick up my camera. First assignment… “Carry your camera with you at all times…keep it by your bedside, dream of it…make it your best friend. Photograph anything and everything that is of interest to you and do it in a photojournalistic manner. Practice and learn the difference between a picture and a photograph….and a photograph and a great photograph…there is a marked difference.”
But how can I tell them to do this if I am not doing this myself? I know they have a life outside my classroom. I know they have other classes…I do too as I attempt to plow through the M.ed program (Masters in Education) here at SOU. So now I have taken it upon myself to complete any assignment I give my students…carry my camera…photograph and present my photographs as I require them to do… and to journal about what I was thinking when I was shooting and what I felt I might accomplish with my images. I feel it important to inspire them to make images that will tell a story to the viewer…images that will compel thought about and to possibly invoke a reaction to what they see.
During my sojourn through my time achieving my degree, I battled with a professor over how I wrote… “I’m not a hard core journalist…I’m a humorist…I do cute.” After a period of time he agreed…my interest and writing blossomed. After my first week as a teacher, I felt I could be more effective if I gave this same opportunity to MY students. It’s a small class of three…one seems to be concerned with hard hitting front page journalism and sports photography, another leaning towards feature photography and the third who joined us during the second week hasn’t been there long enough for me to discover hear leanings in photography.
So the challenge is to make the class interesting for all three…allowing them to discover the joy, the desire and the impact of their photographs…Interest Based Education.
Having to find and create a curriculum that interests the students and taking on the assignments I have handed out, has had the affect of rekindling my photographic desired…for which I am grateful and I have discovered something more about my inner self.
I have been lucky having had my return to college happen here at SOU and even luckier to have been afforded this opportunity to teach this class…nah, to present an introduction to visual-journalism more as a mentor and to share my passion and to place the seed of possibilities into the minds of students… students who may go on to impact the world with one or more of their images.