One of my goals for 2011 was to speak to a group of people about photography. I literally have it posted on a little cork board in my room titled “Goals for 2011.” It did not matter who or what that group was… it was just something I wanted to do… err, scratch that… It’s something I want to do. Mark Henessey, one of my former wedding re-shoot clients, called me about three months ago asking if I was interested in speaking to a group of 7th and 8th graders at Bridges Academy in San Jose about photography as a career. My heart skipped a beat when I got the message… In my head I was like, “helllz yeah!” and then my conscience kicked in and was like, “uhhh dude… what do you talk to 7th graders about?” after some thought, I re-gained my confidence and decided a Justin Bieber comment during my presentation would gain me 30 new BFF’s. It was my secret Bieber weapon. I was locked and loaded, ready to go!
Wednesday was the big day. I got my PowerPoint on, thanks to some mad skills I learned during my time at Lockheed Martin, and I was all set at 8:30AM to talk to 4 different groups of 13 and 14 year olds. I started out a little shaky… first presentation was a little to canned, a little too “by the book” but the next was better, and the next was better than the first two. The more I acted like a kid, the more relaxed I became and the more the kids actually engaged in my conversation. As I talked, I could not help but notice one teen in the back of the class who had his head pinned to the desk the entire time I was up there. I think I literally laughed out loud as I remembered moments during my education where there was nothing I wanted to do more than to stare at my desk from an inch away. Some things will never change! There were also some incredibly knowledgeable kids in the room… Overhearing a 7th grader talk about depth of field, blurred backgrounds, and image composition had me geeking out. When I saw ideas and concepts start to click in these young adults heads it was just awesome, and as I listened to their own interpretation of these concepts I was excited thinking about what these young people will produce in 5 or 10 or 20 years time.
I have a new found respect for teachers… it’s not easy, not by a long shot. Grabbing the attention of middle school kids is hard for 30 minutes, let alone an entire day. Turns out that my nuclear Bieber bomb was about as effective as a $2 water gun, but my embellishment of touring with RBD (think Minudo meets Mickey Mouse Club) was a lethal hit… I just had to keep throwing things out there until I found a connection. My hope is that some of those students think twice the next time they see a camera. Maybe they will start taking pictures of their dogs or cats, or parents, or siblings or whatever, and maybe it will become a passion they can not live without. I suppose on some level this is the hope of every teacher, to inspire and instill positive thoughts that will last a lifetime.
Im so thankful to have had the opportunity to share my passion for photography with some young minds. Thank you Mark for the invitation… I cant wait to do it again next year!