I’ve spoken of gratitude in previous posts and yet today it seems appropriate to give thanks to my teachers and to teachers everywhere. I’ll take this idea a little further and give thanks to my students as well. For they are the reason that teaching is a joy.
The teachers I have had in my photographic life come from many different backgrounds. The one characteristic that sets the great ones apart from the good ones is their ability to set aside their personal vision and engage in a genuine manner the student’s interests and body of work. Simply, there is no ego in great teaching. When we are connected to another person in this selfless way then we allow magic to happen; perhaps a clearer vision emerges for the student, or the courage to show work publicly, or to tackle a completely new technique or project. It is likely that the teacher will not know the result of their effort or the lasting effect a conversation or workshop might have. But once in a while a little magic happens and we hear from a former student or see a book published or exhibit hung that allows you to think “Yes! I had a little part in that.” And as this is so inspiring, the circle is complete.
I had this bit of magic delivered to me last week in the form of an email from a student. And the week before I enjoyed a break from my routine and had lunch with a former student. In both instances I was deeply moved…and humbled…by their gracious remarks and their appropriate pride in the work they have been creating since our times together.
Teach, tutor, or mentor….whatever you have time for! You will see more deeply and appreciate the amazing ability of your students to see things in a way that you could never dream. It’s just another way to say that whatever we give comes back to us in far greater measure. Take a moment to email or write to a teacher whose efforts made a lasting impression. The joy you will create is immeasurable.
My small gallery today comes from a time when I was challenged, intimidated, yet determined after remarks from my dearest teacher set me on a collision course with my photographic inadequacies. And so, to use a word I learned from my fellow Pilgrims on the path to Santiago de Compostela: Ultreia! (Onward, with courage!)….and I would add, gratitude.