While few individuals possess all the attributes of the "ideal teacher," there are some characteristics that would seem essential for anyone who wishes to teach photography as a career.
The photography teacher—like any other classroom teacher— needs strong group leadership and classroom management skills to efficiently organize her or his classes to carry out the class objectives and goals.
The ideal photography teacher would be a combination carpenter/plumber/electrician/mechanic. With tight school budgets at all levels, the teacher who can work on the myriad problems that occur in even the best photo facilities will be in a much better position to keep a program running smoothly. The photography teacher also must be a budget-maker in most programs, often responsible for large sums spent on supplies and equipment.
The teacher who is also an artist or commercial photographer must learn to work with the inherent conflict of trying to maintain both roles at a professional level of competence. One of the major problems reported by such teachers is the split among their available time, energy, and resources.
Above all, the aspiring teacher must want to work with people. Despite the emphasis in the media on photographic techniques and equipment, photography is done by human beings. Without a genuine respect for the individual student, no meaningful educational dialogue can occur.
Salaries for teaching photography are generally comparable with other arts or professional skills. There is usually no additional compensation for the added responsibilities of teaching a laboratory subject. In some secondary schools, however, there may be additional money for directing a photo club after normal school hours, or advising the student newspaper. Additional outside income may come from judging exhibitions, consulting with other schools, or holding workshops.
Regardless of any other differences of opinion, most photography teachers will agree that theirs is a job that requires long hours—
there is always something more that the conscientious teacher can do. From this standpoint, the photographers who look to a career in teaching to give themselves time to do their own work are likely to be sadly disillusioned. Except for the possibility of usually unpaid summer vacation, the teaching of photography is a full-time job. However, for the man or woman who deeply enjoys working with both photography and people, the teaching of photography can be an eminently satisfying career.
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