“I never knew you did that”, my nephew told me. He was looking at some prints that were delivered a few days ago. Some of the kids. A Sandhill Crane. The family holiday pictures. I was just starting to get back into photography again. “I’ve always been taking pictures. I just slowed down a few years ago. See…here’s one of you from the first family dinner we had together,” I explained. That was nine years ago.
“And you took all of these?” “Yeah, I did…” I started to explain. “This Sandhill Crane was on the golf course in our backyards. These were the kids on Halloween. And, this one of L, I edited the photo to be desaturated as…” I droned on as I went through each detail of how I masked out her red dress. He seemed to be intrigued in the photos.
It’s now a new month with a new camera in hand.
“Do you have any interest in learning photography?” I asked my nephew. There’s some perks in being the oldest in the extended family. “Yes. I think…What does that entail?” “I have a camera for you to use.” “Will you be teaching me?” “Absolutely.”
There’s only one problem: I took one elective class in photography and that was just because I wanted a fun class for my final semester at community college. That’s the extent of my formal photography education. The book was purged from our house long ago. I don’t have any formal material to give him. Hell, I never had any instruction at first. All I remember is keep the exposure needle in the middle and look at the center for focus.
We had our first lesson last night. “There’s a difference between a picture and a photo. Do you know what it is?” “…not really.” “Composition and intention. I want you to focus on composition.” Maybe this is a bit of a rough start. “Look at these two shots. This first one is just of this tray of sprouts. Not too exciting. Nothing jumps out. Now look at this one, what’s different?” “Well…” he started “The angle is lower and there’s more of the plants to see.” Good start. “How about this one? Where is your eye drawn?” This is going pretty well.
We start to talk about exposure a bit. “For this week, keep the camera in Program mode and think about what you’re shooting,” I told him. “I’d rather you start with composition rather than trying to get a correct exposure.” We talk about shutter speed and in the middle of my lecture, he picks up the camera and starts playing. Of course! “I wanted to see what would happen if I made the speed really high.” I know, of course, and he’s about to find out. In this, I forgot that it’s really easy to demo how the exposure triangle works instead of talking about it. He has one advantage: He doesn’t have to worry about wasting film.
Our time was soon up. I pack up the camera, prime and zoom lens, and spare battery with charger. His homework is to bring back his 5 best composed shots sometime in the next week or two. It’s exciting to see someone get into the hobby and to see the camera get a new life.