The majority of participants in RRR program are veteran teachers. Most of them are master teachers, as well. Preparing a conference for master teachers can be a daunting task. We always keep the learners in mind as we prepare. We always try to model best practice.
Believing that everyone in the group has something to teach the others is a foundation block for building a community of learners. As a member of the design team for the RRR Summer Institute 2008, I try to base my sessions on that belief. In a traditional beginning to the session on photography, the presenter might focus on themselves. The presenter might show his/her own photographs, cite awards won, and dump everything known on the participants.
Instead, each participant wrote the best piece of advice for taking photographs. They wrote with magic markers on a 3" x 4" peel and stick paper. Participants read the response, and then posted it one of two tag board sheets at the front of the room…one for camera advice and one for photographer advice.
The size of the paper is important, because it limits the amount the individual can write. Peel and stick paper is important, because it eliminates problems with tape. Using markers forces participant to write big. Walking to the tag board to post is important, because brain-based learning teaches that the act of standing sends 10% more blood to the brain, helping the participants to stay alert and facilitating their learning from each other.
Here is the complete list of the responses:
Advice to Ourselves
Take a lot of shots and don’t â€œfall in loveâ€ with any picture
Your best shot isn’t always your first one
Look at the entire image within the frame
Always look at the entire picture to make sure you have the result you want
Pause before you take the picture to make sure the shot looks as you expect
Frame the picture
Consider the background
Look at texture, contrast, vague detail in the background
What is your intention?
Lighting, lighting lighting
Watch for back lighting.
Keep the sun behind you
Keep your finger off the lens
Keep your thumb out of the way
Hold your arms from pits to elbow at your sides.like they are glued and don’t breathe until shot is complete
Do not pose your subjects
Picture should tell a story
Remember the composition of thirds
Put your subject slightly off center
Center your subject begin sure that you have not cut off heads
Know how to work the zoom
Want a better picture? Get closer.
Select one subject to focus on. Do not try to cram multiple things in your picture
Many, many shots will be ho hum. 1 or 2 will be WOWWEEE
Operating the Camera
Take the lens cap off
Make sure batteries are charged
Take extra batteries with you
Make sure you use the flash in a dark area
This structure did not give the presenter the opportunity to share award-winning photographs. Instead, each participant reviews what s/he already knows about taking a good photo.
In second half of the 60 minute session I showed work of famous contemporary photographers. Participants saw work of William Weggman, Sandy Skoglund, Robert Mapplethorp, Annie Leibowitz, and Lauren Greenfield. They learned three steps of art criticism: Describe, Interpret, Criticize.
Off they went to capture an image on the Case Western Reserve Campus that reflected their own personal landscape.
You can see those images and what they wrote on the Tumblr site.