A Christian community here in Qatar whose attendees are 99% Filipinos invited me to share a few of my knowledge in photography. Their church is actually conducting lessons on various subjects of interests such as basic computer courses and other practical arts. They have a double purpose for this. The first is to do service for its attendees by helping those interested to learn new skills to upgrade their qualifications or for them to use in their future ventures. The "enrollees" are mostly those who either don't have time to attend formal education or those who cannot afford formal education. The second purpose is for the church to raise funds to finance it's equipments and operational expenses by accepting minimal "pledges" from its enrollees.
There happened to be a considerable demand on photography lessons and since I am the most vocal and open about my interests in the subject, and now with an interview to show off, one of the church leaders approached me and asked if I would be interested to teach. I was reluctant at first because I'm not an attendee and I do not have formal training and much less any qualification to teach. She said I have nothing to worry about because everyone's idea of photography is simply to aim the camera at people and then click the shutter. With that, she said that anything that I share, even the most basic, will surely be appreciated. And so, I agreed explaining to her that I can only teach something that resembles to an "an idiot's guide to photography".
"Students" testing what they have learned so far in the field.
I made my lesson plan into 3 sessions. The first one focused on camera familiarization describing the various parts, buttons, switches and functions of a point & shoot digital camera. The second session was more on basic composition theories and photographing people. The third session was on creative shooting tips and basic understanding of resolution / print relationship. And also, why they do not need those 8 Mp plus point and shoots.
The first session was an eye-opener to my "students". No one has bothered to read the instructions booklet of their cameras. I guess no one ever does. So not surprisingly to me, they have no idea of their cameras various functions and what those buttons and switches are there for. They don't know what is white balance, ISO settings, various metering modes and even how to use the different flash modes. All they know is that the more expensive and more features packed, the better the camera. In many ways it's true but if you don't know how to use those features then it's simply overspending. What the church leader said to me was true - their idea of photography is simply point then shoot.
One of my "student's" photo that he took after learning all about the rule of thirds.
Most importantly, nobody knows how to use auto-focus properly. It's been in most cameras even before they became digital and a considerable section in explaining how it works has been in every camera manual ever since. After the first session, their shots have improved a lot just by simply learning how to used auto-focus. They have also become more conscious and careful of their camera settings before taking a shot.
The second session was about basic composition and basic portraiture. The third was more on tips for creative shooting, and photographing travel and social events. At some point, to explain the various scene modes of a camera, I also explained how aperture and shutter speed work together. And finally, at the end of the third session, I explained what resolution is all about, how it relates to the quality of their prints and what other factors contribute to image quality.
Nice photo, don't you think? Some of my "students" have really become interested in photographic explorations and have managed to produce photos that may be mistaken for the work of a serious amateur.
I believe it was a succesful course overall. Many of them testified that their shots have improved by leaps and bounds. What I have shared with them is the most basic of basics. But what's more important is that I have awakened the shutterbug inside them. I have observed that some have developed a better eye for photographic subjects that looks nothing special to most people. Some have started taking pictures of silverwares, salt and pepper shakers, catsup bottles and other things that can be seen in a restaurant. They take more pictures now, more than ever. Some have even produced photos that may be mistaken for the work of a serious amateur. And then there are some who have discovered the limitations of their current cameras and have developed a hunger for a better one.
It felt great and fulfilling to share what little knowledge I have and actually see the people I've taught improving and putting what they've learned into practice. Word spread quickly accross the community and demand has increased. Now, there's a request for more teaching sessions for a second batch of students. I'm just as excited as the second batch of students.
A schedule has not been set yet but I can't wait to get started once again.