PHD Proposal

Simon Green – Research Proposal

Provisional Title: Approaches to teaching photography. What makes an effective photography teaching provision?

Introduction

This project will explore approaches to teaching photography to identify what makes an effective teaching provision for the subject in Further Education. It will examine the development over time, of photographic teaching provision as it is being designed and implemented.

The Problem 

With the aim of listing transferable skills across creative subjects, photography education, in further and higher education is rapidly being homogenised into visual arts curriculums. Photography long seen as a vocational, technical subject, somewhere between science and art, photography is quickly being absorbed into generic courses such as creative media or visual arts. The franchising of University courses to Further Education establishments has driven a “shift in syllabus…away from practice in favour of research and debate” (Smith, 2016). This move away from the technical aspects of photography is leaving a gap in essential knowledge and an argument could be made for the need to expand the breadth of approaches to photography to facilitate a closer relationship between theory and practice (Harper, 2015). 

There have always been issues with categorising photography in both Art and Academic worlds, Figure 1. Shows the interdisciplinary nature of photography. For me the standardisation of ‘Creative’ subjects, particularly photography is flawed. The world through the eyes of a photographer is very different to that of an artist of any other subject and that homogenisation is producing work that looks at the world through similar  viewpoints regardless of the medium. Photography is defined by the frame, as much by what is excluded, as by what is included. The choice to include only what is wanted or necessary in a painting for example, is often not available to the photographer. A photographer’s palette is restricted largely by the real world. 

Interdisciplinary of Photography Diagram

Photography helps to democratise not only art and media, but also society, its role, in every element of life from the mundane and vernacular to the scientific and political, has allowed it to become so commonplace that it as almost inseparable from everyday life. Yet, the importance of photography seems to be lost in education. It is largely being swallowed up to be insignificantly distinguishable from any other form of art, to be discussed and critically analysed as any other part of the art curriculum or to be used as an artist’s tool. 

Photography is distinctly different to other art forms. It is technically full of compromises and limitations. Depth of field, for example, an inherent flaw from the use of lenses, is only evident in photography and so photography has its very own language and disciplines. Without knowledge of those quirks of photography, it is difficult to have a discussion about photography, to critically evaluate or to understand the contextual issues surrounding it. 

At the time of writing (July 2022) the qualifying bodies are rapidly removing vocational level qualifications from their offerings, City & Guilds have already removed all of their photography certifications, NCFE and UAL (University of the Arts London) are removing their photography specific qualifications as of the end of the 2022 academic year and other bodies such as EdExcel have already removed lower level qualifications. This leaves a very limited photography dedicated progression route.

Opportunity

In April 2022 I began a role as a Photography Lecturer at Houghall College in Durham. When I arrived the college had no photography provision at all. I have been tasked with designing a full photography programme, starting with part-time introductory courses and progressing to a full range of photography courses. There is an opportunity to research, document and to respond to the teaching and learning as it takes place.

Existing Literature

Although there is a wealth of information on teaching Arts subjects in a more generalised sense, there is much less literature specific to the teaching of photography. Although I have identified some thirty texts, even the most recent of it is dated. The following texts are the ones that relate the most to my research:

In Talking about Practice: photography students, photographic culture and professional identities (1997) Darren Newbury of the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design describes how “despite the social and cultural importance of photography…photographic education is an area that has inspired very little in the way of academic research” and little seems to have change in the intervening years. Indeed, even the quintessential handbook for many photography courses Langford’s Basic Photography, the most recent 15th edition (2015), dedicates as much of its content to film photography and darkroom editing as it does to digital photography despite film camera manufacturing having being reduced to niche and specialist areas.
The most significant literature that I have identified is from 2016 or earlier (Horner, 2016; Rand et al, 2015; Borge, 2014 ) and although of use, are outdated, partly in educational terms, but particularly in terms of the technological aspects of photography. 

Teaching Photography (Rand et al, 2015) is a comprehensive piece of literature and works as an excellent starting place for the project. It explores in broad terms an approach to teaching photography from the philosophical aspects to the use of taxonomies in the design of curricula. However, there are elements that are outdated in teaching and photographic terms, for example the use of learning styles, which have been widely criticised (DfE, 2019 p20) and the technological aspects that have changed in the time since the book was published, both in photography and in teaching, such as the use of virtual learning environments. 

I found that the book veered too far from the photographic and into more generalised teaching methods. In narrower terms however, Rand stresses the importance of subject specific knowledge. He identifies the difficulty in maintaining the “flow of knowledge” (p36) and that students ask questions to “clarify, impress, quarrel” (ibid) and without that subject knowledge it is difficult to to respond to those questions if teachers are only “two weeks ahead of the students” (p37).

Ansel Adams’ An Autobiography (1996) describes Adams’ experience of developing and delivering photography curricula. Adams’ reference to teaching is unfortunately a single chapter in the book, however it does discuss the importance of fundamental skills such as composition and exposure and his approaches to making photography courses an “a short-term, intense experience” (Adams, 1996, p268) and the importance of students “taking command of the medium”. He also describes how other artists at the school “arose in wrath and protest; photography is not an art, they claimed, and had no place in an art school” (Adams, 1996, p269). The idea that photography is not an art is even more prevalent today in the digital age, where everyone is a photographer. 

This book is important, because many of the skills and techniques that are now the basis of modern photography were developed by Adams and his contemporaries. Minor White one of those contemporaries who taught alongside Adams at the California School of Fine Art, documented Adams’ approach (White, 1956). He identifies how the photography courses were “as flexible as possible” giving students the experience of a “practicing photographer” (ibid). Adams encouraged students to work by themselves until they reached their own ceiling and only then approached the instructor to have the Ceiling raised (White, 1956, p151-152).

The most recent academic paper that I have been able to access, specific to teaching photography is by the University of Gloucestershire’s Sharon Harper, written in 2016. The paper discusses how photography theory and research has “not kept pace in scale or breadth” with professional specialisations and how, as described earlier, many of the texts used as the “cornerstone” of photography teaching have not changed in decades (Harper, 2016). 

Prolific writer on the philosophy of photography, Daniel Rubinsteins’s 2009 article Towards Photographic Education argues that photography education is attempting to “cling to the historical moment of photography” (Rubinstein, 2009, p135)  and that it “fails to address contemporary conditions…because it perceives the digital turn in technological terms” (ibid). 

The article discusses how Ansel Adams approach to teaching photography may not be appropriate in the digital age and how photography education needs to “become interdisciplinary” as Dimitrios Stamovlasis had described at the Interdisciplinary Theme for Science, Technology and Art Symposium in 2001 (Stamovlasis, 2001). In 2009 Rubeinstein was declaring that “the age of the still image is over” (Rubinstein, 2009, p140) and that “the notion of camera is rapidly becoming a thing of the past”, I would suggest over a decade later the still image and the camera are not dead yet and in my own anecdotal experience, because of the rise of digital photography and its interdisciplinary the demand for high quality photography education, specific to the still image, is higher than ever. By 2024 the UK photo merchandise market (printing) is predicted to grow by 57.9% to a staggering £330 million (Oakley, 2022).

Aims

The intended aim of this project is to identify what makes an effective photography teaching provision by researching current literature, qualification specifications and courses at other colleges and teaching establishments, interviewing photography teachers, practitioners and students and documenting the development of the photography programme at Houghall College.

The overall objective is to build a resource that can be used as a reference point for developing photography curricula, schemes of work and teaching programmes.

Methodology

  • Primary research – Interviewing academics in current photography programmes and industry professionals about their experiences of photography education. Questionnaires and interviews with students during and after photography education. The data produced through the development of courses being at Houghall College. Interviewing industry professionals about their experience of photography education.
  • Secondary research – Building on the educational and subject specific research that already exists.
  • Professional narrative – the project will document my experiences and reflections of developing a  photography teaching provision. I will also be using my industry connections as part of my research particularly those within military, community and academic organisations.

The project will be an exploration of opinions and ideas about teaching photography, collation of those ideas and analysis of the reaction and responses of students to the teaching put in place. The project will build on previous photography teaching literature and research and broader more generic teaching literature. The project will document the development of designing a photography teaching programme at Houghall College. The project will not be an analysis of hard facts and statistics, more an exploration of opinions and ideas from people who practice and teach photography and feedback from the students who are in the process of learning it.

How does this project further existing knowledge? 

This project will examine photography teaching provision in a specific location while it is being implemented, investigating and revising approaches to teaching photography and analysing the responses to those approaches. With the rapid changes in photography education and photography technology, any new research will have a significant impact.

Previous work in the proposed field 

Alongside my twenty two year career as a practicing photographer, I have been teaching the subject across a diverse range of settings and to a variety of students from secondary school children to medical students. I have taught to vulnerable adults, in the community, on private trips and tours, workshops and classes and on vocational and A level courses at college level. I have lectured and talked to College and University students, industry organisations, camera societies and clubs and used my experience to teach on broader subjects, such as mental health, media studies and film production.

Provisional Timetable

Year OneReading current literature, identifying approaches to teaching photography Developing a photography teaching programme at Houghall College. Documenting the process. Interviewing academics and professionals.
Year TwoAnalysing the outcomes of the first year of teaching programmes and interviews and identifying areas for improvement, identifying next steps and implementing them.  Continue documenting the process.
Year ThreeAnalysing the outcomes of my research, photography programme development, interviews, questionnaires and evaluating the conclusions.
Year FourConsolidating resources, experience and documentation. Write up.

Bibliography

Adams, A. (1996) An Autobiography New York: Time Warner Berger, J. (1972) Ways of Seeing London: Penguin Bogre, M. (2014) Photography 4.0: A Teaching Guide for the 21st Century: Educators Share Thoughts and Assignments New York: Routledge

Chrsitodoulou, D. (2020) Teachers vs Tech?: The case for an ed tech revolution Oxford: OUP

Department for Education (2019) ITT Core Content Framework. Available at:https:// assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/ attachment_data/file/974307/ITT_core_content_framework_.pdf (Accessed 12 April 2022)

Edge, S. (2009) ‘Photography, Higher Education and the Skills Agenda’ Photographies, 2:2, 203-214. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/17540760903116663 (Accessed 21 February 2022)

Francisco, J. (2007) ‘Teaching Photography as Art’ American Art Vol. 21, No.3 Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Gregson, M. Duncan, S. (2020) Reflective Teaching in further, adult and vocational education: 5th Edition London: Bloomsbury

Grove-White, A. (2003) ‘Theory and Practice in Photography: Students’ Understandings and Approaches to Learning’ Active Learning in Higher Education. Available at:https:// journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1469787403004001005 (Accessed: 18 March 2022)

Harper, S.P., (2015) ‘Photography Theory Moving Forward’ MeCCSA 2015: Generations, 7-9 January 2015, Northumbria University. (Unpublished)

Harper, S.P., (2016) ‘The World’s Most Amazing 100% Awesome Photography Theory’. Photographies, 9 (3). pp. 327- 348. Available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/ 10.1080/17540763.2016.1202133 (Accessed 18 February 2022)

He, Y. (2016) Photography in the British Classroom Bejing: China Nationality Photography Art Publishing House

Hill, P. (2011) ‘How British Photography Found Its Voice’ Redeye, 1st November. Available at: https://www.redeye.org.uk/opinion/how-british-photography-found-its-voice (Accessed: 14 February 2022).

Horner, G. (2016) The Photography Teacher’s Handbook: Practical Methods for Engaging Students in the Flipped Learning Classroom Abingdon: Focal Press

Hyland, T. (2014) Reconstructing Vocational Education and Training for the 21st Century: Mindfulness, Craft, and Values. Available at: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/ 10.1177/2158244013520610 (Accessed: 14 February 2022)

Hyland, T. (2107) ‘Craft Working and the “Hard Problem” of Vocational Education and Training’ Open Journal of Social Sciences 5, Available at: https://doi.org/10.4236/ jss.2017.59021 (Accessed: 14 Feb 2022)

Langford, M., Fox, A., Sawn Smith, R. (2015) Langford’s Basic Photography London: Focal Press

Lucas, B., Hanson, J. (2021) Reimagining Practical Learning in Secondary Schools: A Review of the Evidence London: Academy of Engineering

Moschovi, A. (2021) A Gust of Photo-Philia: Photography in the Art Museum Leuven: Leuven University Press

Newbury, D. (1997) ‘Talking about Practice: photography students, photographic culture and professional identitities’ British Journal of Sociology of Education 18:3 421-434. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/0142569970180307 (Accessed: 18 February 2022)

Oakey, S. (2022) ‘Get FREE professional prints with Fujifilm’s ‘Print to Prove It’ campaign’ Digital Camera World 15 March. Available at:https:// www.digitalcameraworld.com/uk/news/get-free-professional-prints-with-fujifilms-print-toprove-it-campaign (Accessed: 30 April 2022)

Rand, G., Stevens, J., Horner, G. (2015) Teaching Photography: Tools for the Imaging Educator 2nd Edition New York: Routledge https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315734231

Rubenstein, D., Golding, J., Fisher, A. (2013) On The Verge of Photography Birmingham: Article Press

Rubinstein, D. (2009) ‘Towards Photographic Education’ Photographies, Vol 2. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/ 233351426_Towards_Photographic_Education (Accessed: 03 May 2022).

Smith, I.R., (2016) Education for Photography: Historical aspects and its Development in England 1839-2000 Wiltshire: Photolink

Sontag, S. (1979) On Photography London: Penguin Stamovlasis, D. (2001) ‘Teaching Photography: An Interdisciplinary Theme for Science, Technology, and Art’ Science and Technology Education: Preparing Future Citizens Proceedings of the IOSTE Symposium in Southern Europe (1st, Paralimni, Cyprus, April 29-May 2, 2001). Volume I [and] Volume II

The National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education (1997) The Dearing Report: Higher Eduaction in the Learning Society Main Report. London: HMSO

Tricot, A., Sweller, J. (2013) ‘Domain-Specific Knowledge and why Teaching Generic Skills does not Work’ Educational Psychology Review June. Available at: https:// journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1469787403004001005 (Accessed: 17 March 2022)

White, M. (1956) ‘A Unique Experience in Teaching Photography’ Aperture, Vol 4, No. 4. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/44405154 (Accessed: 29 April 2022)

Wolf, A. (2011) Review of Vocational Education – The Wolf Report. Available at: https:// assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/ government/uploads/system/uploads/ attachment_data/file/180504/DFE-00031-2011.pdf (Accessed 2 March 2022)

Zunk, E.L. (2021) Choice-Based Photography Education. Available at: https:// etd.ohiolink.edu/apexprod/rws_etd/send_file/send? accession=toledo1620406201708527&disposition=inline (Accessed: 36 June 2022) 

Bibliography

Simon Green – PHD Proposal

Talking about Practice: photography students, photographic culture and professional identities (1997)

The most significant literature that I have identified is from 2016 or earlier (Horner, 2016; Rand et al, 2015; Borge, 2014 ) and although of use, are outdated, partly in educational terms, but particularly in terms of the technological aspects of photography.

Teaching Photography (Rand et al, 2015) is a comprehensive piece of literature and works as an excellent starting place for the project. It explores in broad terms an approach to teaching photography from the philosophical aspects to the use of taxonomies in the design of curricula. However, there are elements that are outdated in teaching and photographic terms, for example the use of learning styles, which have been widely criticised (DfE, 2019 p20) and the technological aspects that have changed in the time since the book was published, both in photography and in teaching, such as the use of virtual learning environments.

I found that the book veered too far from the photographic and into more generalised teaching methods. In narrower terms however, Rand stresses the importance of subject specific knowledge. He identifies the difficulty in maintaining the “flow of knowledge” (p36) and that students ask questions to “clarify, impress, quarrel” (ibid) and without that subject knowledge it is difficult to to respond to those questions if teachers are only “two weeks ahead of the students” (p37).

Ansel Adams An Autobiography (1996) describes Adams experience of developing and delivering photography curricula. Adams reference to teaching is unfortunately a single chapter in the book, however it does discuss the importance of fundamental skills such as composition and exposure and his approaches to making photography courses an “a short-term, intense experience” (Adams, 1996, p268) and the importance of students “taking command of the medium”. He also describes how other artists at the school “arose in wrath and protest; photography is not an art, they claimed, and had no place in an art school” (Adams, 1996, p269). The idea that photography is not an art is even more prevalent today in the digital age, where everyone is a photographer.

This book is important, because many of the skills and techniques that are now the basis of modern photography were developed by Adams and his contemporaries. Minor White one of those contemporaries who taught alongside Adams at the California School of Fine Art, documented Adams approach (White, 1956). He identifies how the photography courses were “as flexible as possible” giving students the experience of a “practicing photographer” (ibid). Adams encouraged students to work by themselves until they reached their own ceiling and only then approached the instructor to have the Ceiling raised (White, 1956, p151-152).

The most recent academic paper that I have been able to access, specific to teaching photography is by the University of Gloucestershire’s Sharon Harper, written in 2016. The paper discusses how photography theory and research has “not kept pace in scale or breadth” with professional specialisations and how, as described earlier, many of the texts used as the “cornerstone” of photography teaching have not changed in decades (Harper, 2016).

Prolific writer on the philosophy of photography, Daniel Rubinsteins’s 2009 article Towards Photographic Education argues that photography education is attempting to “cling to the historical moment of photography” (Rubinstein, 2009, p135) and that it “fails to address contemporary conditions…because it perceives the digital turn in technological terms” (ibid).

The article discusses how Ansel Adams approach to teaching photography may not be appropriate in the digital age and how photography education needs to “become interdisciplinary” as Dimitrios Stamovlasis had described at the Interdisciplinary Theme for Science, Technology and Art Symposium in 2001 (Stamovlasis, 2001). In 2009 Rubeinstein was declaring that “the age of the still image is over” (Rubinstein, 2009, p140) and that “the notion of camera is rapidly becoming a thing of the past”, I would suggest over a decade later the still image and the camera are not dead yet and in my own

Bibliography

Adams, A. (1996) An Autobiography New York: Time Warner Berger, J. (1972) Ways of Seeing London: Penguin

Ansel Adams An Autobiography (1996) describes Adams experience of developing and delivering photography curricula. Adams reference to teaching is unfortunately a single chapter in the book, however it does discuss the importance of fundamental skills such as composition and exposure and his approaches to making photography courses an “a short-term, intense experience” (Adams, 1996, p268) and the importance of students “taking command of the medium”. He also describes how other artists at the school “arose in wrath and protest; photography is not an art, they claimed, and had no place in an art school” (Adams, 1996, p269). The idea that photography is not an art is even more prevalent today in the digital age, where everyone is a photographer.

This book is important, because many of the skills and techniques that are now the basis of modern photography were developed by Adams and his contemporaries. Minor White one of those contemporaries who taught alongside Adams at the California School of Fine Art, documented Adams approach (White, 1956). He identifies how the photography courses were “as flexible as possible” giving students the experience of a “practicing photographer” (ibid). Adams encouraged students to work by themselves until they reached their own ceiling and only then approached the instructor to have the Ceiling raised (White, 1956, p151-152).

Bogre, M. (2014) Photography 4.0: A Teaching Guide for the 21st Century: Educators Share Thoughts and Assignments New York: Routledge

Chrsitodoulou, D. (2020) Teachers vs Tech?: The case for an ed tech revolution Oxford: OUP

Department for Education (2019) ITT Core Content Framework. Available at:https:// assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/ attachment_data/file/974307/ITT_core_content_framework_.pdf (Accessed 12 April 2022)

Edge, S. (2009) ‘Photography, Higher Education and the Skills Agenda’ Photographies, 2:2, 203-214. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/17540760903116663 (Accessed 21 February 2022)

Francisco, J. (2007) ‘Teaching Photography as Art’ American Art Vol. 21, No.3 Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Gregson, M. Duncan, S. (2020) Reflective Teaching in further, adult and vocational education: 5th Edition London: Bloomsbury

Grove-White, A. (2003) ‘Theory and Practice in Photography: Students’ Understandings and Approaches to Learning’ Active Learning in Higher Education. Available at:https:// journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1469787403004001005 (Accessed: 18 March 2022)

Harper, S.P., (2015) ‘Photography Theory Moving Forward’ MeCCSA 2015: Generations, 7-9 January 2015, Northumbria University. (Unpublished)

Harper, S.P., (2016) ‘The World’s Most Amazing 100% Awesome Photography Theory’. Photographies, 9 (3). pp. 327- 348. Available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/ 10.1080/17540763.2016.1202133 (Accessed 18 February 2022)

The most recent academic paper that I have been able to access, specific to teaching photography is by the University of Gloucestershire’s Sharon Harper, written in 2016. The paper discusses how photography theory and research has “not kept pace in scale or breadth” with professional specialisations and how, as described earlier, many of the texts used as the “cornerstone” of photography teaching have not changed in decades

He, Y. (2016) Photography in the British Classroom Bejing: China Nationality Photography Art Publishing House

Hill, P. (2011) ‘How British Photography Found Its Voice’ Redeye, 1st November. Available at: https://www.redeye.org.uk/opinion/how-british-photography-found-its- voice (Accessed: 14 February 2022).

Horner, G. (2016) The Photography Teacher’s Handbook: Practical Methods for Engaging Students in the Flipped Learning Classroom Abingdon: Focal Press

Hyland, T. (2014) Reconstructing Vocational Education and Training for the 21st Century: Mindfulness, Craft, and Values. Available at: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/ 10.1177/2158244013520610 (Accessed: 14 February 2022)

Hyland, T. (2107) ‘Craft Working and the “Hard Problem” of Vocational Education and Training’ Open Journal of Social Sciences 5, Available at: https://doi.org/10.4236/ jss.2017.59021 (Accessed: 14 Feb 2022)

Langford, M., Fox, A., Sawn Smith, R. (2015) Langford’s Basic Photography London: Focal Press

Lucas, B., Hanson, J. (2021) Reimagining Practical Learning in Secondary Schools: A Review of the Evidence London: Academy of Engineering

Moschovi, A. (2021) A Gust of Photo-Philia: Photography in the Art Museum Leuven: Leuven University Press

Newbury, D. (1997) ‘Talking about Practice: photography students, photographic culture and professional identitities’ British Journal of Sociology of Education 18:3 421-434. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/0142569970180307 (Accessed: 18 February 2022)

Darren Newbury of the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design describes how “despite the social and cultural importance of photography… photographic education is an area that has inspired very little in the way of academic research” and little seems to have change in the intervening years. Indeed, even the quintessential handbook for many photography courses Langford’s Basic Photography, the most recent 15th edition (2015), dedicates as much of its content to film photography and darkroom editing as it does to digital photography despite film camera manufacturing having being reduced to niche and specialist areas.

Oakey, S. (2022) ‘Get FREE professional prints with Fujifilm’s ‘Print to Prove It’ campaign’ Digital Camera World 15 March. Available at:https:// www.digitalcameraworld.com/uk/news/get-free-professional-prints-with-fujifilms-print- to-prove-it-campaign (Accessed: 30 April 2022)

Rand, G., Stevens, J., Horner, G. (2015) Teaching Photography: Tools for the Imaging Educator 2nd Edition New York: Routledge https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315734231

Teaching Photography (Rand et al, 2015) is a comprehensive piece of literature and works as an excellent starting place for the project. It explores in broad terms an approach to teaching photography from the philosophical aspects to the use of taxonomies in the design of curricula. However, there are elements that are outdated in teaching and photographic terms, for example the use of learning styles, which have been widely criticised (DfE, 2019 p20) and the technological aspects that have changed in the time since the book was published, both in photography and in teaching, such as the use of virtual learning environments.

I found that the book veered too far from the photographic and into more generalised teaching methods. In narrower terms however, Rand stresses the importance of subject specific knowledge. He identifies the difficulty in maintaining the “flow of knowledge” (p36) and that students ask questions to “clarify, impress, quarrel” (ibid) and without that subject knowledge it is difficult to to respond to those questions if teachers are only “two weeks ahead of the students” (p37).

Rubenstein, D., Golding, J., Fisher, A. (2013) On The Verge of Photography Birmingham: Article Press

Rubinstein, D. (2009) ‘Towards Photographic Education’ Photographies, Vol 2. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/ 233351426_Towards_Photographic_Education (Accessed: 03 May 2022).

Prolific writer on the philosophy of photography, Daniel Rubinsteins’s 2009 article Towards Photographic Education argues that photography education is attempting to “cling to the historical moment of photography” (Rubinstein, 2009, p135) and that it “fails to address contemporary conditions…because it perceives the digital turn in technological terms” (ibid).

The article discusses how Ansel Adams approach to teaching photography may not be appropriate in the digital age and how photography education needs to “become interdisciplinary” as Dimitrios Stamovlasis had described at the Interdisciplinary Theme for Science, Technology and Art Symposium in 2001 (Stamovlasis, 2001). In 2009 Rubeinstein was declaring that “the age of the still image is over” (Rubinstein, 2009, p140) and that “the notion of camera is rapidly becoming a thing of the past”, I would suggest over a decade later the still image and the camera are not dead yet and in my own

Smith, I.R., (2016) Education for Photography: Historical aspects and its Development in England 1839-2000 Wiltshire: Photolink

Sontag, S. (1979) On Photography London: Penguin

Stamovlasis, D. (2001) ‘Teaching Photography: An Interdisciplinary Theme for Science, Technology, and Art’ Science and Technology Education: Preparing Future Citizens Proceedings of the IOSTE Symposium in Southern Europe (1st, Paralimni, Cyprus, April 29-May 2, 2001). Volume I [and] Volume II

The National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education (1997)The Dearing Report: Higher Eduaction in the Learning Society Main Report. London: HMSO

Tricot, A., Sweller, J. (2013) ‘Domain-Specific Knowledge and why Teaching Generic Skills does not Work’ Educational Psychology Review June. Available at: https:// journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1469787403004001005 (Accessed: 17 March 2022)

White, M. (1956) ‘A Unique Experience in Teaching Photography’ Aperture, Vol 4, No. 4. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/44405154 (Accessed: 29 April 2022)

Wolf, A. (2011) Review of Vocational Education – The Wolf Report Available at: https:// assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/ government/uploads/system/uploads/ attachment_data/file/180504/DFE-00031-2011.pdf (Accessed 2 March 2022)

First course reflection

I was thrown into my first course at Houghall college without any induction, not knowing the place or the people and everyone gave me a great deal of responsibility and trust immediately. The NCFE Level 1, part-time evening course started on 12th May 2022, only six weeks since my interview for the job. In that time I had brought together an entire course, schemes of work, lesson plans, presentations, resources.

The first course has been a whirlwind of learning, development and trial and error for me. 8 weeks that feels like a lifetime, without a single moment where I felt that things were not going how I wanted them to.

As I had intended from the very beginning though, I wanted to be unswayed by anything that had been taught at the college in the past. Houghall, had never taught photography, the Arts being a new venture for the agricultural college, however there had been photography taught at the sister college. The photography teaching provision there was described to me as “severely lacking”.

My intention anyway, was to build from scratch. Using my 23 years experience of teaching / learning and practicing photography, to build a program that would inspire, motivate and capture the imagination of the students. Photography has many elements that can be complex, confusing and involves mathematics, a new language and vocabulary and significant IT skills. Many people approach it, then abandon it. It is a subject where everything is interconnected and to understand any element of it properly, you need to know all of the other elements.

I wanted to deliver the fundamental skills in a quick and effective way, so that students could move onto the ‘important stuff’- taking photographs.

I came into the role with a number of questions that I wanted to answer:

Is there a gap in photography teaching provision? My own observations tell me that there is a gap in the teaching, the learning of the critical skills that make competent photographers. This connects directly with the second question:

Should photography be taught as a stand alone subject or taught as part of a broader arts curriculum? Do we need photography specific qualifications? Photography is rapidly being absorbed into visual arts curricula. Photography transcends art, it affects everyone’s lives politically, socially and artistically, it has no language barrier. It is interdisciplinary and bridges genres and subjects. There is an argument for it be taught alongside the core skills of English, Maths and IT. However, the qualification boards are rapidly discontinuing photography qualifications. This also links directly to the next question:

Is there a demand for photography education? In the era of the online tutorial, our competition is YouTube and online courses. What can we offer that is better or different to that? Where is the value in offering face-face photography teaching and how can we integrate those online technologies into classroom teaching? How do we motivate students to keep coming back to the classroom?

I had all of these questions in mind when I interviewed for the job, they were the basis of my initial PhD Proposal, so I had all of these questions in mind when I started planning.

Starting as I meant to go on, I planned in-depth. The scheme of work for that first course was built using techniques and approaches that I had seen work in the past and wanted to put the best of everything into the package. This may seem a bit over the top for a Level 1 course, but I see it as the beginning of a photography journey for students and if successful, should prepare them for the next level.

The level 1 is incredibly important, it should be where all of the fundamental skills are learnt. It is the point at which students know the least about their subject and need the most support. For me these first steps into photography are the most crucial. Inspire someone at this point and they will be inspired for life. If you don’t get them to the point of creating great images without support by the end of this stage, you have missed the opportunity. This is usually what happens.

The scheme was built around those fundamental skills, the technical, such as aperture, shutter speed, ISO and the creative composition and subject, but more importantly learning how to read a photograph, learning and using photographic and visual language. Alongside this, I also introduced opportunities for students to present and discuss their work.

Discussion is key to it all for me. The course delivers the how, but also needs to consider the why? Why was a photograph taken, what is the story in the image, how do students then apply those storytelling techniques to their own images? From the outset, students were looking at and discussing images. Outside of photography and the arts. it is a rare thing for someone to spend a great deal of time looking at an image.

The modern way to view images, is on a mobile device, scrolling through hundreds, giving only a moments glimpse to all but the most stand out of examples. Students learn so much from pausing and taking the time to analyse images; to consider why an image was made, what the message is supposed to be and what they themselves as a view brings to the image. It also sparks ideas and without an exception, amongst my students at least, this is the bit about photography that everyone enjoys the most. I allow them to get lost in discussion over an image. I allow them to take the discussion wherever it may go. Some students will never have had the chance to do this ever.

https://www.simongreen.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/NCFE-Lvl-1-Photography-Houghall-Apr-2022.pdf