I recently had to write up some info about my work for a facility that will be hosting one of my Basic Photography Classes. It got me thinking about photography, natural science, animals, nature, people, and teaching. I have been devoting the majority of my energy into teaching over the past (almost) three years, and I have to say that I find it interesting and surprising that I enjoy it so much and that I feel so comfortable in it.
I am an introvert in every sense of the word. I’m probably even on the more extreme end of the spectrum. In addition to being an introvert I am pretty darn shy. Combine these two and it gets challenging. Talking to people in groups, parties, social interactions, class discussions etc. has always been something I have dreaded and even avoided if at all possible. I’m fine one-on-one in conversation and with limited exposure to smaller groups, but I definitely need to recharge and take a lot of alone time to counter my social or larger group interactions.
Over the last two years, however, I have been leading small and larger classes on a weekly basis and I have even given a couple of talks in front of very large groups, something that would have normally made me run away screaming at just the thought. So why can I do it now? I think it’s because I am talking photography. If there is one thing I’m comfortable in, it’s photography. When I’m talking photography to like-minded people (and in many cases some kindreds) I am in my element 100%. And I wish I would have known this earlier on in my life.
Teaching photography is what I need to be doing. I genuinely love it. I love it as much as taking pictures and that says a lot to me. Focusing primarily on nature and animal photography has made me love it even more. And in the case of the Audubon Nature Institute photography classes I am able to focus also on conservation and animal education, which is just the icing on the cake. These are all the things I care deeply about rolled into one.
I honestly feel photographing nature and animals over the years has really helped me to forge a strong relationship and a sense of deep respect between myself and the flora and fauna I live side by side with on this planet. It is a bond that only becomes deeper the more I photograph and even deeper still when I am teaching this craft to others. Photographing nature compels me to learn more about the things I am photographing; I want to understand these things and I want to know everything I can about them. I stress this in all of my photography classes. The more you know about your subject the better your photographs will be. So do the research. Study the animal behaviors and habitats, the changing seasons, the native versus invasive plant life, or whatever it is that you want to focus your photography. Develop an intimate knowledge of your subject. All of this will make you a better photographer and will open your eyes to things in a way nothing else can.