This morning I was invited to give a couple of talks to some of Mary Windler's advanced photo students at Waukesha South High School, where my son is a junior. South is known for being strong in the arts, and has an excellent photo program. The school offers three different levels of photography classes, from Photo 1 and 2 to Seminar level. There are more than 150 students in the program.
The talk I gave was called "Surviving as a Photographer." Here's a truncated version of the outline:
I. MAKING A LIVING IN PHOTOGRAPHY
A. Being a photographer
1. Working for professional buyers
a. Studio/Advertising/fashion photography
2. Working for the public
a. Wedding photography
b. Portrait photography
c. Artist (adequately remunerated)
B. Not being a photographer
3. Scholar, museum, gallery, critic, author, etc.
3. Staff, support, technical etc.
II. NOT MAKING A LIVING IN PHOTOGRAPHY
A. Transitional (aspiring to full-time)
1. Artist (inadequately remunerated)
2. Part-time or occasional work for pay
B. Hobbyist (happy where they are)
1. Amateur artist
2. Chronicler of friends and family
...For many, many values of "other." (I admit, I changed this outline considerably in rewriting it here. I've never been good at outlines.)
It was fun. For me, anyway.
The kids at South are pretty accomplished—they had a strong showing in the The National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards Contest—nine Gold Key winners from 11 entries—and Ms. Windler showed me some work by a graduate, Libbie Allen, who is working as a waitress but had an excellent feature-length shoot in a recent magazine. Some of the work I saw was quite impressive. One student, Cara Erickson, who works at the Elmbrook Animal Shelter, shot a poster consisting of a series of dog noses that is so good it's gotten her hired to do more publicity photography for the shelter.
I'll see if maybe I can get some JPEGs of some of their pictures for a portfolio on TOP some day.
The reason some of these kids are facing the wrong way is that in Wisconsin you can't take photographs of public school kids without parental permission unless they're 18. In the top two pictures, I just asked the 17-year-olds to please absent themselves from the crowd. You can see a couple of empty chairs. In the second class there were more 17-year-olds, so someone suggested they all just turn their backs to the camera. (Aren't the kids in back doing a good job of pretending they're looking at something?)
(And, yes, a zoom with a wider setting would have been handy. You know what they say: Oh well.)
My thanks to Mary for the invitation to speak—and my apologies to those students who aren't included in any of these pictures.
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Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.