Back to school

If I could, I would be a professional student.  I loved my undergraduate years at UGA and my masters program at Piedmont College.  I wasn't always the top student, but I loved the atmosphere on a campus.  I love classrooms and I love learning new things.  

Maybe that's why it's been such an easy transition into teaching and photography.  Both careers involve constantly learning new things in an environment that is dynamic and evolving.  Both jobs involve large amounts of self-teaching, individual investigation, and self-propelled learning.  And I've done pretty well on both counts.  I feel like I've come very far as both a teacher and photographer, and my portfolios have shown that.  But every year I've had a gnawing hunger to take a class or get another degree.  I'm already doing it as a teacher, taking classes in English Language Learner certification to become a better academic teacher for students who are learning both English and curriculum content.  I know that in a few years, once my student loans are paid off (woot!) I will be finally making the decision on whether or not to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology.  

I also want to study photography as both art and a profession.  I love this career and I love what it gives me.  I've always had the mentality of seeing what I can do better, and where that leads me is wanting to go back to school for this as well.  I've been looking at various degrees and programs, from the Professional Photographers of America certification to Art Institute of Atlanta to bachelors and masters programs at SCAD and UGA.  But I'm not sure where to go from here.  

I want to go back to school.  I want hands-on instruction in core art topics, art history, design.  I want real-time instruction on both advanced photography and post-process technique.  I want to learn the full depth of advanced Photoshop.  I want to learn how to work in a real darkroom, and not from the small dark space I've put together to develop films when I have the time.  I want to learn the business practice systems crucial to making all of it come together.  And I want a real program, not a BS 'certification' or a for-profit 'degree' from a degree mill.  I want real education, real challenge, real experience.  

But I don't know what's appropriate for me.  I don't need basics on how to work a camera.  I don't need to waste my time.  And I don't know if already having both a bachelors and a masters degree affects my options.  

What I'd love is to hear comments, suggestions, thoughts about the options.  What should I do?  And what do you want to accomplish this year?  

Back To School Specials

Led Zeppelin – Fool In The Rain

School starts for most of metro Atlanta next week.  Teachers are back at work today in the county.  More on that in a minute…

First for some back-to-school special things going on here!

Over the weekend I started a contest for a free 2-hour session, great for headshots, family portraits, senior portraits (if you haven’t scheduled them already or taken them, you’re behind the game for yearbook people, but we can still get them done!).  It’s a simple contest really.  All you have to do is share your favorite picture (preferably one you took) and the story behind it.  Click on the link to share your picture and story.  Be sure to vote for your favorite image.  The winning image gets a 2-hour session valued at $250 on the house!  While you’re clicking links, please be sure to like to see the results and updates!  The contest ends when either the Facebook page reaches 500 likes or we reach 100 votes on images, whichever comes first!

All my favorite pictures have stories attached to them, great stories or great moments the image tells, and the setting behind it is even better. These are the things that we cherish.  When my grandfather passed, I inherited his collection of Kodachrome slides from his photography.  Over the past several years I’ve been digitizing them for my family, and have found some amazing samples of his skill.  I still have over 50 pounds of slides to go through, but I can say the man was brilliant with a camera, and one of my main inspirations for getting into photography.  At the end of this post are a few of my favorites so far…

In other news, I’ll be running a promotion during August for wedding packages.  Any wedding booked with a deposit paid during the month of August will automatically be given a 20% discount off the total cost of the package.  With weddings becoming more and more expensive, it’s the easiest way I know to help couples worried about budget, as well as get that part of the planning checked off lists!  It makes it easier for me as well.  The further out I have things booked, the easier my planning and coordination for the event.  There’s no need to mention it when setting up a consultation, the discount is applied to all packages and shows up when we sign the contract with the deposit! 

By the way, I've put up a calendar with my availability for Dragon*Con.  Spots will fill up fast, get to me soon!

Toto – I Won’t Hold You Back

Below was the scene outside the Gwinnett Center last week.  They had an offer for any teacher with a valid idea to come get free school supplies.  Within an hour, they were out.

I’ve been lucky to have to careers that I love.  Photography is the career that’s my artistic passion, lets me travel the world, meet people, and create something.  Teaching has been my other career for the past several years.  It’s the job that gives back, that helps me feel a part of a community, gives me a way to make a difference in lives.  Both careers I love, and am fortunate that they can intertwine easily (it’s rare to shoot a midweek wedding, and you don’t often teach on weekends and during the busy summer wedding season). 

These give-away are something that always draws us together in large mobs.  Teachers are quick to try to get whatever supplies they can, because we go through them quick.  I’m fortunate that I teach in a wonderful school system with great staff and a great support network.  Often I’m able to use the school card to buy large amounts of supplies for big projects for kids.  But not every teacher is as fortunate as I have been.  Often, most teachers have to fork over their own money to make sure their students have lined paper to write on.  Add in computer paper, tissue paper, sanitizer, and everything else that runs out quick, and most teachers on average spend $513 of their own money on school supplies for their students.  Depending on the subject area, it can get more expensive. 

Foreigner - Urgent

I’ve taught special education for 4 years, and am on my second year teaching physics and chemistry.  I spent more than $500 by the end of the first quarter.  I don’t even want to imagine what the art teacher has to spend.  There were many evenings and mornings when I realized I was short materials needed to make something explode in an entertaining yet safe and educational way (seriously, teaching science is fun).  Or I remembered I had promised a winning review group doughnuts (I know sugar, but seriously I’ve never seen kids compete more during study sessions for tests) or getting pizza for the class after a particularly amazing substitute report.  Teachers often put up boards during preplanning of supplies they need, and we get them the first day of school.  We’re always grateful for them.  But those are often all used up by winter.  The parents that would drop by in January with more supplies or to ask what I needed were godsends.  I don’t need Starbucks gift cards, and some other gifts I’ve gotten before winter break were questionable but sweet.  There’s an easier way to my heart.  Every teacher I know salivates over Office Depot or Target gift cards.  We look at them and see reams of paper, boxes of pencils, and all types of art supplies.

There are even more ways to support teachers as we get back to business.  Donors Choose is one of my favorite organizations.  Several of my colleagues have put up fundraisers on there for big ideas for their curriculum and believe me, they are great ideas.  Consider supporting a school near you.  I have no doubt you can find dozens of projects in your area that need just a little contribution.  It’ll go a long way and have a direct impact in your community.  Even if you don’t have kids, it’s a good way to support a good cause. 

Don Henley – Boys Of Summer

And… anyone who books me for an event, bringing me a receipt of a Donors Choose donation of $50 or more to a school in your community will get a 25% discount on any photography service for that calendar year (or a booking for a wedding in the future).  This isn’t a one-time deal.  This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while.  It saves the donor money and gives back to a community, plus on any of my wedding package you’re looking at over $600 off with that $50 donation to Donors Choose.

Good luck for everyone going back to school, good luck to anyone entering the contest, and I hope to hear from you.  Comments below would be great! 

And… some of my grandfather’s Kodachrome slides as promised.