Exploring this Job
You can explore photography by signing up for classes or just by practicing taking photos on your own. Even if you do not have access to a darkroom, you can practice shooting images with a basic automatic camera. In this way, you can learn how best to frame shots to create clear or even dramatic images.
To see if you have what it takes to teach photography, try to explain to a friend or family member how a picture on a roll of film becomes a finished print (or try to explain how to crop or lighten a digital image using photo editing software). If you can clearly explain the many steps it takes for a negative to become a "positive" or finished print, or how to edit a digital image, you are demonstrating good teaching skills.
Another easy way to explore this career is by talking to a photography teacher about his or her training and tips for finding a job. Whether your teacher was trained at a large university or a small fine-arts school, he or she should have good advice to pass on to you about the career.
Photography instructors teach photography to high school and college students or to adults in community centers, photography studios, or other settings. They develop and implement a photography education program in compliance with the institution's guidelines and budget, which generally includes both labs and lectures. They teach the technical aspects of photography, both print and digital, and often conduct hands-on training (i.e., labs) in developing, downloading, and printing.
Lectures cover technical material such as the relationship between f-stops and shutter speed; how to best capture images in motion, limited light, bright light, or other situations; or how to manipulate camera settings to create different effects, such as a short or long depth of field, blurred images, or high-contrasting images.
Instructors also show students around the darkroom before the lights are turned off so they are familiar with the equipment and its location for easy access. They show students how to use the printing machines, called enlargers, and how to adjust them to make prints of varying exposure time. Instructors also show students how to take an exposed image (on a piece of photo paper) and put it through the chemical washes so it can be developed and "fixed" so that it is no longer sensitive to light. At this point, the student can bring the image into the classroom for closer examination.
After teaching students the basics of how to operate equipment and handle the chemicals, instructors teach students how to critically examine their own work to find out how to make improvements or adjustments. They also teach students "tricks" to salvage a poorly shot image (such as one that is overexposed to light and as a result, appears dark in the print form). One of these tricks includes a method called dodging and burning, which either lessens or adds to the picture's exposure time to light and makes it appear lighter or darker in certain areas. Instructors also teach students how to use light filters and other equipment to further alter images once in the darkroom.
With the popularity of digital photography, instructors also teach students how to use photo editing programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Photomatix. For digital photos, the computer is often referred to as the "digital darkroom."
Instructors also encourage students to be creative, identify student needs and goals, and receive feedback on the course.