This Week’s Feature: Teaching Photography


Happy weekend!

I am so excited to bring you this week’s feature! Stephen DiRado was my professor throughout my college years and has become a dear friend. He is also on a list of great educators who I have personally gotten to study under. One of the great people on my journey to becoming the teacher I am. I am going to stop myself here because I could really just go on gushing. But needless to say I am excited to share Stephen’s interview with you. So without further adieu here’s Stephen’s one thing that works:

Stephen DiRado, Professor of Practice, Studio Arts/Visual and Performing Arts


Clark University

There is very little difference between my philosophy and approach when making my art compared to the strategic instructions on how I mentor students. I believe it is all about the discovery, struggle and refinement which come about during the process that counts. The end result, with each undertaking is a plateau to stand on, evaluate, and help point towards the next level of challenges. This mode of operandi liberates any burden of specific expectations and makes the journey liberating and frightfully fun.

I have been teaching photography for about thirty- one years; everything from introductory to advanced classes. At the beginning of each semester, I announce to the students that they will be exposing a little bit of their soul, by taking risks in order to express wholeheartedly what they “see” as unique individuals. We labor less on learning about the camera’s technical functions: depth-of-field, shutter speeds and options to correct color. Instead, we spend the majority of our time concentrating on the consequences, of how the results of these choices to compose an image emotionally and psychologically affect the viewer. By enlightening the student’s awareness of the power of a well constructed photograph: organization of visual elements within the frame, we can sustain engaging classroom critiques with endless discussions. There is no theme that is right or wrong. The student has control over their choice of subjects.

During the course of a semester, the students unknowingly inspire me with their discoveries, humble me with their refinements and dazzle me with their radiant conquests.

The thing I remember most about being in Stephens classes was the sense of wonder he instills in his students. It is an inspirational quality that seems to come from a real passion for both the subject being taught and also the craft of teaching. So again… Thank you so much for sharing with us Stephen!

Readers, I’m so glad you found your way to this space.


2 responses »

  1. I took a couple of photography courses with Stephen in the mid1980s at Clark U. He was a great teacher! At the end of the courses, my cameras were stolen and so I didn’t take photos for several years, or if I did, it was casual with throwaway cameras. When I returned more seriously to photography, about a decade ago, all of Stephen’s teachings were there. I thought about the composition of the photograph; I found myself not concentrating on the subject, but looking around all the edges of the photo. All kinds of ways of “seeing” that I realized were thanks to Stephen Dirado. Thanks again Stephen!

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