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Old 25-06-2007, 15:18   #1 (permalink)
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Thinking of teaching a night-class: opinions?

The local arts centre used to have a chap who ran a short course in photography; I don't know what his syllabus was exactly but, to cut a long story short, he doesn't teach it anymore - despite high demand for the course (there was always a long waiting list to get on it apparently)

So: the better half and I have been discussing whether I should fill the slot and start a course there myself. I was thinking the following.

The course will largely cover the technical details of photography rather art or composition; I'd concentrate in issues such as aperture, shutter speeds, ISO values, depth-of-field, on-camera flash, remote flash and basic accessories such as diffusers, brollies etc. I'd also touch on the digital darkroom and issues such as colour management and profiling.

It would be aimed mostly at dSLR users, although prosumer and P&S users would obviously benefit too.

I'm thinking that between eight to twelve two-hour classes would cover it; one each week, allowing plenty of time to go over course content and include Q&A as we go. I'd printed have hand-out materials as well for each subject too.

So: the questions I'd like to field to you is this:

What would you pay for attending such a course??

and

What content that has not been mentioned would you like to see in a syllabus?
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Old 25-06-2007, 15:28   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Thinking of teaching a night-class: opinions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by VikingPhotography View Post
What would you pay for attending such a course??

What content that has not been mentioned would you like to see in a syllabus?
Don't think I'll answer the 'what would I pay?' (never have done, so probably never will!). Maybe have a hunt around to see how much other places around the country are charging?

Personally, I'd love to have a quick guide to composition, even if only mentioning some of the rules - probably no need to take more than 1 lesson. Just that it'd help to give a structure to the taking of pics
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Old 25-06-2007, 15:55   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Thinking of teaching a night-class: opinions?

The wife and I here in the states took a course in the night school continuing education system for a technical type class and paid 50 dollars apiece, I paid the same for another non tech class. It was like a going rate, I also recieved college credits to add to my long list of need more credits to advance to smarts ville. Don't know the exchange rate for you all. I am thinking the price has gone up sence this was a few years ago and nothing ever remains the same,,,up up up.
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Old 25-06-2007, 16:00   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Thinking of teaching a night-class: opinions?

In a prior incarnation I used to be an FE Head of Department with responsibility for a variety of evening, adult and short courses. A few points come to mind.
  • Since you are asking what would we pay I assume your take is what you charge. OK what overheads if any (rent, caretaker fees etc, etc). Don't forget to incorporate "other" costs like handouts, OHP slides etc.
  • I am probably teaching my proverbial grandmother here but do not sell yourself short. This is your time which could be spent on fee-paying photography. On the other hand you need to hit a balance of what people will pay.
  • Are you able to store some gear at the Arts Centre. It can be a right bind (if p*****g down) having to load and unload your car for each class.
  • Do you have a contingency plan if you are ill, someone who can step in? Don't just cancel a class - believe me that is the main thing which engenders a feeling of unreliability with adult students.
  • Will there be PC's available for the digital darkroom aspects of the course?
  • The other thing to consider is that for every hour spent in the classroom you will spend an hour in preparation. Tha ratio does reduce as you do more courses. Otherwise the mathematics are quite simple. How many weeks, how many hours per week, number of students, your fee etc. So, for example, reckon on four hours per week for ten weeks. If your hourly rate (labour) is £50 per hour then the cost of the course will be £2,000 plus materials and overheads. Cost to ten students will be £200, twenty students £100 etc. I am sure you are more than able to work these things out for yourself.
So in answer to your first question - if I am getting a good course then I would pay £200 for ten weeks. But for some people that is a lot of money.

To the second question - I would also include composition, light, exposure and metering. I would not include profiling and colour management. To me that is another course and another ball game. HTH, good luck and go for it
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Old 25-06-2007, 18:44   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Thinking of teaching a night-class: opinions?

I arranged and organised a similar course for our local Camera Club. The total time was 10 weekly 2 hr lessons and the sylabus was similar to yours. We limited numbers attending to about 15 and had to run the course twice to accommodate the initial demand and will probably have to run it again soon. This was non profit making so we charged only sufficient to cover the costs (£12 per person total). The Club also supplied the necessary Laptop and digital projector. The course was generally based on Power point and live demos using PhotoShop Elements. For presenters, I used myself and 5 other experienced club photographers. Each evening had two 1 hour sessions arranged so each evening had two different presenters. This helps maintain freshness but there is a risk of lack of continuity. However, we overcame this by jointly planning the contents and using an agreed detailed agenda. On each evening most the presenters attended whether or not presenting to provide support, help with continuity and to help answer questions. This worked very well but would be uneconomic for a commerial course.

One of our presenters was undergoing teacher training in order to take up professional teaching at the local art college. On two occassions, a member of the College attended the course to assess our presenter and this was accepted as part of his live teaching practice. We were most pleased that the assessor complemented our very professional course and teaching skills; all our presenters are recently retired and had previous experience in presenting courses.

If you would like a copy of my agenda, please send me an e-mail through Pixelo.
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Old 25-06-2007, 20:16   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Thinking of teaching a night-class: opinions?

I think the guys above offer good advice. From a commercial perspective let me give you another option.

DSLR's are selling at alarming rates these days.
The most popular buys are now under £500.

So your biggest potential market with cameras are those buying the entry models to DSLR. On this basis I'm going to make some big assumptions here ..... slam me down, anyone if you think I'm wrong .....but remember I'm trying to keep a commercial head on here & iidentify the biggest market.
  1. Majority of buyers are upgrading from point & shoot compact
  2. Most just want to get better pictures, expecting DSLR to offer that
  3. Most don't want to spend contless hours / days learning before getting good shots
  4. 10% of purchase price for training might be limit for buyer

On this basis I reckon if you could setup a hands on half day course for £50, that could have the photohgrapher leaving with basic understanding how to use the best Automode for their needs, taking a shot with reasonable composition, you could be on for a winner. If you could setup an environment where with their own camera they could capture a shot with short DOF for impact (say a lone flower) , a high & slow shutter speed example (say running water frozen & then blurred), plus then some basics exposure & composition, you could have people walking out after half a day shooting with much improved shots. Minimal overheads for you also.

I would say people on this forum are in the minority of DSLR owners, who are willing to spend time & effort to get where they want. We live in a society of "want it now", so commercially why not exploit it

Just another take & I'll let others get back to your initial thoughts
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Old 25-06-2007, 20:34   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Thinking of teaching a night-class: opinions?

This sounds exactly like the evening class I booked myself on last year - and came away very disappointed with the result because, lovely though he was, the teacher was useless at teaching.

So my first question to you is do you have what it takes to teach, which isn't necessarily the same as knowing your subject inside out.

I think you've covered the basics of what I would want in such a class and, I agree with Mark, the basics of composition would be a good addition.

I paid £90 for a 10 week course, which included one full day out of the classroom with cameras in lieu of one of the evening lessons. Which is a great idea but one which might cost financially if you lose a days work. I felt I was ripped off but only because I didn't get taught what I should have. If the course had lived up to its blurb it would have been cheap at the price.
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Old 25-06-2007, 21:59   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Thinking of teaching a night-class: opinions?

Okay, some good points raised so far:

@Markulous: I should have said I'd include some primers on composition, touching on issues like the rule of thirds, convergence lines, leading lines, when to use the rules and when to break them; I'd keep such a section fairly light and devote only a short amount of time to it since each student's approach to photography will be (and should be) individual, and I don't believe in a one-size-fits-all approach as such.

@Boufers: $50 is about £25 here at the moment, which would translate to a minimum of £3.12 per person per session... not even enough to cover overheads methinks

@Stepheno: I'd factored for everything apart from the PC per attendee, since the 'digital darkroom' session is going to be more a demonstration than an interactive class; given the diversity of editing apps that folks use it would be pointless to make it a hands-on, but a Q&A session going over things such as RAW vs. JPG, workflow, basic corrections and edits etc. would be of better use and can be software independent

@Dave Cannon: sounds like you ran a successful course; I'd be the sole tutor since I'm only looking to give primers on select aspects of photography, tackling a different core issue each week.

@Dave: Yep, the "new to dSLR" market is what I was thinking about since there are so many folk that get baffled by the seemingly bewlidering array of options that their kit presents to them when they're using such cameras for the first time. Ideally I'd like to start the course in September of this year and then run another intake in January of '08, specifically targeting the post-Christmas new owners.

@Angela: Over the years I've had to present ideas, concepts and processes in various business fields to people of all levels - from training staff to soliciting funds from banks and government bodies. I know a thing or two about effective communication - preparation is the key and I would have all my materials ready well in advance of any course I decide to teach
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Old 25-06-2007, 23:53   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Thinking of teaching a night-class: opinions?

I did my video course some years ago at an evening institute that took place in a local school and was essentially run by the local council/education authority. It was pretty cheap as I remember and lasted for around ten weeks.

If you check out your library it ought to be able to give you the range of courses and prices from last year - this year will start in september as they mirror the school year. You can see what the technical courses are charged at, but as I understand the system the tutor is paid by the council/EA, so it will not necessarily reflect the cost of the course per pupil multiplied by the number of students.

You can also check out the prices for private courses that are advertised in the photo mags - but don't forget some of these also cover shoots outside the venue too.

Maybe a half day seminar type of thing will be an alternative. If that is a success, you can offer modules that are more specialised later.
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Old 27-06-2007, 21:17   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Thinking of teaching a night-class: opinions?

Just to add a further comment. I think Dave is right that there is a market for people who have just moved up from compact cameras and do not understand how to use an SLR. In the planning of our Club course we did discuss this and considered running a half day workshop open to the general public (for a fee) on the basis that we may also recruit some new members.

In the end we decided that the Club was really for photographers who wanted to go that bit further in photography i.e. we wanted photographers who would continue to develop within the Club rather than just train a member of the public who then goes away. While we did cover the basics of SLR (or DSLR) photography the vast majority of our students were familiar with this and really wanted to know everything digital including intermediate level PhotoShop.
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Old 29-06-2007, 18:25   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Thinking of teaching a night-class: opinions?

Where's the course going to take place?

I may come along as im not far away.
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Old 22-09-2007, 11:47   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Thinking of teaching a night-class: opinions?

Did you run the course in the end, VikingPhotography? I happened upon this thread today and am curious as to whether you decided to go for it, or not. If you did, I hope it's going well!
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