Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Teaching Photography Classes at Home

A Kitchen Sink Drama (Not)

I have been teaching adults for a very long time (always with my "other" (psychology-related) hat on. I have even managed university teaching departments, but, up until very recently, I had never taught photography. Nor have I been published on the subject outside this Blog - even though, to coin a phrase, "I could have written a bloomin' book on it". Actually, where I'm from, that phrase tends to mean "he never stops telling us how much he THINKS he knows!"

It occurred to me at the end of last year, that there is a good potential market for teaching photography; not only to beginners and enthusiastic hobbyists, but also as way to retrain and "upskill" people who may become unemployed, in order that they might seek new employment as a photographer or (more likely) set themselves up in a self-employed capacity (and certainly the Irish government - and many others are keen to encourage people down that particular avenue at the moment.

I can teach; I know my subject - and lo and behold, I found, buried in my hard drive, the outline of a photography training programme I wrote 4 years ago, when another organisation asked me to present a proposal for a course they were considering running (but later changed their focus - pun intended). BUT, I didn't have the premises in which to run the course - nor did I have the funds available to rent a facility. So, I did nothing. Until, a friend mentioned that I had a very large kitchen and access to extensive grounds - including a private wood and river - that were ideal locations for outdoor photography.

Why didn't I start a course in my kitchen?
I could keep the numbers small (maximum 5 people) and use that as an advertising feature - small group sizes: increased personal attention. So, I did. I got the relevant insurance cover sorted out and then advertised the kitchen course in my local paper and on my website. I have now had 2 successful courses - evaluation feedback is extremely positive - plus I started another one last night (5 people); one this afternoon (lunchtimes - ideal for mothers who need to be home by 3pm to pick up the kids from school) and I have another evening class starting on Thursday.

These are all beginner's courses and there is a good deal of interest, with people phoning to book in advance classes starting next month. I've now also been to meet with the manager of a local government training organisation, and I've had phone discussions with academic accrediting bodies, to see how viable is my idea for an upskilling - and much longer - Photography For Business training course. The feedback is very encouraging. And now, as is often the way - I have an opportunity to rent a larger premises very close to home that I could convert into a training school and photography studio. Watch this space!

My kitchen set up is above: A screen, an LCD project, a laptop, handout packs, registration form, chairs and cups for tea and coffee (just out of shot). Everything but the kitchen sink. But, actually, that's there too!


  1. Great idea Stephen - I hope it works out. There are always other avenues of using photography to make a living and get revenue as you have pointed out in a couple of your posts. Kevin

  2. An outstanding blog, Stephen. I think your students will be blessed by the things you have to teach them.

    Thanks also for this excellent blog.


  3. Stephen, what an excellent idea ... I would LOVE a course like this (only Sydney, Australia to County Limerick is a little far to travel!!). I wish you luck in this new venture.


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