Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Ebony Retouch (Before and After)
Model: Ebony Sade
Class: Beauty Retouch 1o1
Instructor: Dallas J. Logan

This will be my last official entry for the year of 2009 and what a year it has been. It has been about personal growth, change and learning about myself. The new year will bring new challenges and one that's been coming to me is in the form of teaching. A talented and wise colleague of mine (and an AMAZING photographer I might add [please look him up - Joe Wigfall]) said to me when I first embarked on this wonderous journey; "you will be teaching soon. It is just a matter of time." I laughed at his comment never thinking in a million years that anyone would want to come to me to learn anything, because, I, myself, am in constant learning mode.

One question later, one assistant later, one protege and now I stand at the precipice of the possibility of teaching and I am scared. Not scared that I don't know what I am talking about. Trust me, I know what I am doing, and if I didn't know something, trust and believe I will ask. But as I look at soooooooooo many talented photographers around me and I study their lighting, their composition, their post production and all the while going "how do they do that?" The question(s) are now being thrown to me. How do I do what I do?

In an honest answer? I don't know. I just know what I do comes from the inside and once I tried to show/explain/teach I realize that I could not. Because, in all honesty, you cannot teach photography.

That was the very first words out of my mentor's mouth. "I cannot teach you photography. No one can." I was perplexed by that comment. I see you produce beautiful photos time and time again. I see you light a shot time and time again and I see you develop both film and digital time and time again, so what do you mean you cannot teach me photography? His reply. "I can teach you how to operate your camera. Everything else is up to you."

And that he did. And today it makes sense. Whenever anyone approaches me about photography, I cannot teach them. I can show them how their camera works to achieve a particular image, but I cannot tell them how to capture magic. To capture that defining moment. To make an awe inspiring image. You cannot teach that. That comes from within. That's like asking Leonardo da Vinci "how did you get the mouth on the Mona Lisa to look like that? Teach me."

Am I comparing myself to da Vinci? Not hardly. It is just an analogy to artistry. There's been times I've been in a photosession and the model is in hair and makeup and I am setting up lights, then I look at the model and I go "no, this light isn't going to work for her" while she is still being prepped. There's been times when I've had models getting prepped and walked in front of me and I've had to do complete lighting changes, because what I conceived in my head and the artistry of my makeup artist and hair stylist has put before me will not "connect." Or when I look at the face of a female model and say to myself "I have to light you like a guy." I know this on the inside of my core, but to stand in front of photographic neophytes and try to teach this is impossible.

Can I teach lighting? Yes, of course I can. No, let me rephrase that. I cannot teach lighting per se, but I can teach what light does. I can teach the rudiments of what a beauty dish does, what a softbox does, what a parabolic umbrella does. Practically any photographer can teach that, but what I cannot teach is why I would use one over the other in a particular case. Why hard light would work in one instance, but not in another. Honestly, no one can. That is something that you're going to have to pick up and figure out on your own.

So when you decide to approach a photographer and asks for lessons, understand exactly what you're asking, because odds are he/she will not be able to teach you anything, but the mechanics of photography or lighting or post production.

Have a happy and safe new year. I hope to see you in class.

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