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  1. #1
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    Oct 2006
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    Angry Clashing with Photography Teacher!

    I'm in a photography class in school (I'm in my junior year) and I've had this teacher for 2 years (on/off). He's had my brother and really liked his work, but I'm not getting along with him AT ALL this year, now that I'm in "intermediate photo" which is supposed to be a bit more serious than the Intro class.

    Bgk info: I'm the "art student" of the school and drawing is my strength, especially b/c I've always pushed myself... I tend to be very harsh on myself because I know I have a very critical eye when viewing my work.

    This photo teacher KNOWS I can see things wrong aesthetically and he's singled me out on occaisons (alone) and we haven't ALWAYS disagreed. For instance, I'll take out a print and tell him it would look better to crop it "here" and he'd enthusiastically agree (bringing it up days on end afterwards) but sometimes he is VERY strange. Everybody else in the photo room (including him) has no drawing ability and I don't understand how, if you don't know how to draw, you have as much of a critical eye (an example are the other students, who don't see things wrong with their work or take "the easy way out" by picking one frame out of 3 or 4 rolls). I'm sure if I showed my photo teacher a self portrait I drew, he wouldn't be able to pick out the things that were "off" about it, or say what it needed. I'm not saying drawing ability translates into good photography, but when making certain DECISIONS in contact sheets, how can artists agree?? He oftentimes chooses for his students what they should print and makes his own marks when I feel like alot of times his decisions are poor and he's not "aesthetically attracted" to the same things I am. He's also a bit too polluted in his art books.

    He knows that I have a critical eye because of the things I point out (and I don't outwardly become irritated at him... I'm VERY quiet in class and I do take alot of sh*t... he probobly has no idea how infuritated I've become) and although he often compliments me in a way he can't to his other students because I'm a "true artist" (of course I'm eyerolling) "oh, your composition is great, you're an artist, you get this stuff" etc... but if he means this, than he should trust me! But he's too arrogant and controlling and very restrictive, and exclusively likes anything that is different (he always talks about how passionate he is, how insane he is) He's an elitist. He purposely chooses the "nonconforming" view to make him seem like a cooler person than he is... you know the kinds of people I'm talking about. Even if it's ugly, they feel like they need to make a statement and want others to think, "Well if he likes the UGLY one more, maybe I'm missing out on something".

    IF ARTISTS HAVE DIFFERENT VIEWS (considering we're both "Artists" with a capital f*cking A) THAN WHY CAN'T I DISAGREE WITH HIS CHOICES -- HE ONLY CHOOSES WHAT HE LIKES BASED ON HIS OWN PERSONAL TASTES WHICH DIFFER FROM MINE. He calls one of my portraits of my "too-pretty" friend commercial, and he only likes "sad" portraits because they're the only ones he thinks "don't look like they were snapped with a cellphone". One of the advice he gave to his students was, while showing a book of Friedlander (who is known for taking "chaotic" pictures, which is just a fancy word for paying no attention to composition, focusing everything, and using fancy words to justify his art), he told his (over-egotistical) student:

    "Try emulating Friedlander over the weekend." -teacher
    "Haha yeah, I'll just like shoot a bunch of crap" -student
    "Yeah! Fill the frame with CRAP" -teacher
    [laughs] "Okay" -student

    My mouth is litterally open, the teacher sees me and then quickly says, "But compose the crap -- no but listen Jake -- make sure you compose the picture so it's not JUST crap" and the student keeps laughing like, "what is that supposed to mean?"

    This advice made me 1) completely paralyzed with shock -- is he SERIOUS? and 2) angry at his inability to give good advice -- obviously the student didn't GET it.

    More than angry, I'm frustrated. I'm sick of his arrogance and passive/agressive behavior ("you're an artist and you can see, but I've been doing this 20+ years and I'm right"). He tells me to find my own vision, when it's not clear to him that I already have because he's CONSTANTLY comparing his students with certian photographers and trying to lump them in groups rather than see them individually.... his only assignments are, "emulate this guy, emulate that guy" and I'm beggining to think emulating is just a fancy word for ripping-off something you don't understand rather than trying to carry out a similar photographic vision that has been done before. I not getting ANYTHING out of his class.

    I tried quitting his class when this was happening early on because I thought the class was really a waste of time (which it is), and he found out about it and thought the reason was because I was "uncomfortable" and "insecure" and this makes him more arrogant because he feels like although he's "just a photographer", he's just as good as any artist who SLAVES over technical skill in drawing, etc. because he's controlling one. Most students take the easy way out and blindly agree with him to get the grade, but I see something wrong and I don't... I mean, I just want to understand something, LEARN something (not about how to use a camera or how to copy a certain style, but to learn something about myself so that I can translate that into my own art and drawing/creating) . Someone in a recent thread on criticism said, "Your setting aside your own personal taste and trying to give the artist another perspective to help strengthen the piece." and my teacher is NOT doing this. He's UNABLE to set aside his own taste because he decides what is good or not, no questions asked.....

    I think he's so wrapped up on wanting to become an "artist" and being called an "artist" even though he can't draw (most photographers have to deal with this sh*t, I don't blame them) that when he sees me "insecure" and unable to take "good photos" he's seen before in his stupid art books, he feels better, more powerful, and uses this passive/agressive way of speech: "You're an artist, like me, but now you're in my domain and everything I say is right regardless of your critical eye and personal taste"

    SOMEBODY PLEASE HELP BEFORE I LOSE IT.... I have 2-3 months with this guy left and I want him to either respect me, accept my "voice", or at least have less decision in what I choose to print because he has to realize that even though we both have taste, our tastes do differ. Just because he's a teacher doesn't make him right. It shouldn't.

    My parents (dad architect, mom art teacher in the grammar school) tell me to keep quiet and not create problems in the school... my mom doesn't want to have to face a colleauge who's fighting with her daughter and my dad tells me that I should give in now and fight back later (he says that nobody will listen to me now because I'm still in high school and they won't take me seriously). What do you guys think? He DOES control my grade in the class... but something in me says that IF I DO SUBMIT and take the easy way out, I'm going to lose a part of myself and a part of my own independent voice.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    In my own thoughts.
    Thanked 559 Times in 255 Posts
    They're teachers, what did you expect? The holy grail of knowledge?
    A long lost brother? A father figure?

    Some of them are retards, some of them are not.
    We ignore certain aspects, we don't with others and we move on.

    That's it.

    But I understand you needed to vent. Now, did it feel better?

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    I'll most likely be straight forward from the begining,is what I think.
    Works always in college for me.
    But then again this is your point of view...
    Sometimes people are 'cold' because something happened to them in the past. Who knows...

    Just consider this, do you absolutely need the grade for college or not? If not, just quit. Who cares about what other people think!
    What I learn in High School that seems to hold true for most countries is that...being expressive is a no-no. I hate that.

    And you get photography in high school?! AHH! You are soo lucky...My country does not have that...ARGH, I blame the government...In fact, our art class in high school are of elementary level or ask us to do based on the themes pick out and they hardly teach anything!


    In this world set by God,
    Imagination is our magic...

    My Sketchbook above. (Way too long ago... been a busy college student)

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Queens, NY
    Thanked 40 Times in 30 Posts
    teachers are like that. i had a teacher who hated alphonse mucha (who i love) and thought egon schiele was the best thing since sliced bread. she told me i didnt work hard enough and so i started taking extra classes with her eventhough she was a bitch, cause she had more experience than i did. despite her having a bad attitude and a difference in taste i just had to deal.

    so just stick out the last few'll be fine

  6. #5
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    Aug 2005
    Queens, NY
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    "I tried quitting his class when this was happening early on because I thought the class was really a waste of time (which it is), and he found out about it and thought the reason was because I was "uncomfortable" and "insecure" and this makes him more arrogant because he feels like although he's "just a photographer", he's just as good as any artist who SLAVES over technical skill in drawing, etc. because he's controlling one."

    no offense, but why does him being a photographer not make him an artist? forgive me if i'm misinterpreting your words...

  7. #6
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    Apr 2007
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    To be honest,
    (and I think I'll regret it)

    I get the impression you haven't given this teacher a fair chance.

    There's a whole lot of assumption here. Assuming what your teacher thinks, your teacher's teaching strategies (implying a lack thereof) , we even get a pop-psych evaluation. Let's be fair now, you don't really know why he's doing these things, that's what made you so angry in the first place.

    Speaking of which, why are you so confused?
    Wondering why he chooses pieces that are so off compositionally, if it bothers you to the point of quitting the class - you should have asked him by now. If those critiques seem vague and opinionated, ask him to elaborate. You can still disagree, but the problem is, I don't see any indication in your writing that you tried to understand what he was saying to begin with.
    One of which is, I noticed when the student laughed off the teacher's composition comment, the first person you set to lay blame on was the Teacher. If that student - and you - don't ask "why?", how could your teacher possibly know you don't understand? And more importantly, you want to know more? Let's be realistic here, it's a high school art's class. Apathy is the standard. The uncaring masses drift in and out for easy credit with no real drive to take anything to heart. Silence is no way to let any teacher know about your burning desire to learn, least of all in such conditions.

    To list your teacher's arrogance as one his major faults, in the context of a rant that skirts dangerously close to being arrogant on at least three separate occasions, I have to wonder if this is less a clash of opinions and more a clash of egos.

    That's not to say I'm playing devil's advocate, there's a few things your teacher did that raises my eyebrow. Most of all, the thing you didn't appear to be all that upset about.
    You'd be surprised how often a student having a complaint about a teacher gets back to them, even when the student hasn't done anything more than muttered to their social circle. Standard procedure is to grin and bear it, confronting a student for something so minor as a student/teacher personality clash is a bad idea, made even worse by the way he handled it. Tsk, tsk.
    Last edited by Zilant; November 18th, 2007 at 08:38 PM.

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  9. #7
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    May 2007
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    Chill out. That's my only advice. You're being whiny, insecure and overly emotional. Maybe your teachers acting that way too. But why do you give a shit? Seriously. Why?
    Do you Mentler?

    Booting up a new sketchbook.

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  11. #8
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    Aug 2006
    Thanked 1,448 Times in 259 Posts
    You need to get over yourself. Drawing is not necessary to having a keenly good eye for what looks good. And if you try departing your highschool overinflated with yourself you are going to find that being on the bottom of the food chain in college and professionally is going to hurt. Lots.

    Your teacher does not need to “trust you”. Quite the opposite: it is his responsibility as a teacher to make you defend what you believe, so that you are forced to understand why you have reached your conclusions.

    Don’t “take shit”. Start practicing how to state your opinion so that you don’t keep them bottled up. Being silent and then exploding at people (or about people) is a very bad habit to be in – it’ll make you miserable in your job, later, or it will lose you your job. You need to be able to calmly give and take if you want to work with clients, art directors, and college professors. You need to learn to lose a battle so that you can win the war. In this case, winning the war is graduating.

    Get used to disagreeing with your teachers. You won’t survive college if you feel required to agree with every opinion your teachers have. Just figure out why they are wrong and you are right, and take that knowledge as your prize. That knowledge is worth its weight in gold. The art you produce, the grade you get, and your relationship with your teacher are all incidental.

    Your teacher is full of flaws. Yes – all teachers are full of flaws. Be grateful that you can see that! So many people can’t. Use that to sort out the good stuff he’s saying from the bad. Then disregard the bad. (Preferably without burning bridges.)

    A few more months is nothing at all. Hang in there!
    Last edited by Seedling; November 19th, 2007 at 09:04 AM. Reason: fixed a typo
    I think you are awesome, and I wish you the best in your endeavors, but I am tired of repeating myself, I am very busy with my new baby, and I am no longer a regular participant here, so please do not contact me to ask for advice on your career or education. All of the advice that I have to offer can already be found in the following links. Thank you.

    Perspective 101, Concept Art 101, Games Industry info,Oil Paint info, Acrylic Paint info, my sketchbook.

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  13. #9
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    Apr 2005
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    Agree with what the last few posts.

    Tell you what I did. I enjoyed my high school art teacher, but that doesn't mean we didn't have our fair share of disagreements.
    He would tell me to do something this way - I would just do it my own way, and he was usually satisfied with the result anyway.

  14. #10
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    May 2007
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    i went through a similar experience for three years of photography classes in college

    all i can say is that you're really limiting your own progression by willingly ignoring opportunities to learn. count your blessings man, youre taking a class in a subject you want to learn more about, and all youre doing is finding a way to make it suck for you. hell, my highschool didnt have an art curriculum.

    being angry and full of passion is great, but you're directing it at a guy who sounds like he's giving sound advice. why not put that energy into your work?

    be open to new forms of composition, formal relations, exposing, printing, developing, and maybe you'll learn a thing or two about a thing or two.

    ...and study those "good pictures" in "the stupid art books"
    they didn't become masters because of dumb luck.
    hey i know, you don't have to like all the work you see, but at least appreciate the devotion to a similar passion of photography.

    and remember:
    expose for the shadows, print for the highlights.

  15. #11
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    Jul 2007
    Gastonia, N.C.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forecast View Post
    I think he's so wrapped up on wanting to become an "artist" and being called an "artist" even though he can't draw (most photographers have to deal with this sh*t, I don't blame them) that when he sees me "insecure" and unable to take "good photos" he's seen before in his stupid art books, he feels better, more powerful, and uses this passive/aggressive way of speech: "You're an artist, like me, but now you're in my domain and everything I say is right regardless of your critical eye and personal taste"
    Did he actually say that? Or is that just how he seems?

    It very well could be you two are just never gonna connect. He likes things his way and you like things your way. Since hes a teacher hes always gonna feel his way is the right way. He could be right, he could be wrong, I don't know.

    I remember when going through high school(which I just got out of) I used to take Art classes and I mean a lot of them. My art teacher was a cool guy and all, but I felt he didn't know what he was talking about.

    Now that I am out of high school and I have discovered anatomy and the like, I realized he knew what he was talking about, but he did make a couple mistakes.

    1. Hes way or the highway. It was as simple as that. If he didn't like what you we're doing or wanted to do, you weren't allowed to do it.

    2. He never bothered to go into detail as to explain things. If I had problem drawing a hand he would tell me to go look an book, but never explained why I was doing it. Which in the end only made things worse.

    3. Partly my own fault. He got me believing that the way I drew and painted was the way I would do it for the rest of my life. At the time I thought that some people we're just born with the magic ability to draw. Now I know much better.

    I don't have a problem with his style of teaching, but I know if I'm a teacher and I come across one of my students who has a passion for art and would like to seek a career in it or pick it up as a major hobby. I would take them aside and set them down the wright path as best as I could.
    Helps us on our journey. Comments and critiques are welcome.


    One Sketch

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  16. #12
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    Nov 2002
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    the fact that this is a high school class and teacher should have been underscored from the very beginning, not squirreled away somewhere 3/4th's into your epic story. that way you could have spared a lot of people from reading all the tedious tedium.

    c'mon people get on the ball here!

    p.s. to be somewhat constructive... remember teachers are people too.
    Last edited by steve kim; November 19th, 2007 at 09:11 AM.

  17. #13
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    Sep 2007
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    When I was in high school I had an 'art' teacher who I couldn't stand. I had her class a year before and things were fine. There seemed to be a mutual; respect there. The second time around however, something changed. I'm not sure why, but it did and I hated it.

    Every year at this tiny little school, drawings and such were created specifically to be shown at the local fair. That particular year, I did a somewhat massive pencil drawing meant to be somewhat dark and minimal. It was meant to be black and white. It was meant to be 'raw'.

    Despite my better judgment, I listened to my 'art' teacher on her idea to add some color to the piece. I added some very light tones of color in order to hint at some pales hues and tones. Trying all the while to keep the piece in the realm of simplicity.

    She wanted me to add more, which I summarily denied (this was the most I was willing to change it I told her), and my piece was left over night to be matted and framed.

    I came to class the next day to find my drawing was now dabbed with bright greens and blues forming loose lines of color from top to bottom. I just about shat myself.

    Naturally, I expressed my somewhat monumental displeasure at this defacing of my work by walking straight out of the class and bringing a fairly disgruntled attitude to the class from there on. It basically became my nap class and was filled with niffty little snide remarks by my teacher to the rest of the class concerning my apparent 'snootiness'. Far be it for me to nod off watching some silly movie about picasso's work or drawing disfigured heads instead of listening to a story about some 6 year old who's supposed to be the next coming of Christ to 'art' f*cks. I really didn't care. I still don't. Picasso can take a good long tug off a fat d*ck as far as I'm concerned.

    What the hell was I talking about? Anyway, I'm reminded of the old saying: "Those who can't; teach." This seems to ring true with most teachers. Never forget that teachers usually have no idea what they're talking about. If they did, they wouldn't need a book with all the answers in it. You just do what you need to do and bide what time you have left. Just make sure that one day you can walk into this guy's class and show him your net worth and laugh your ass off at him.

    Those who can't; teach.

  18. #14
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    Jan 2004
    The Netherlands
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    My highschool art teacher was considered a 'cool' teacher. But all I remember him ever teaching us was:

    1. Use overlap to create depth.
    2. If you can't draw something, try to find a way to avoid drawing it. For example, if you can't draw hands, put them behind the character's back.


    Yeah, I know.
    My Self-Portraits

    "Work for your self first. You can paint best the things you like or the things you hate. You cannot paint well when indifferent.
    Express a mental opinion about something you are sensitive to in life around you. There is a profound difference between sensitivity and sentimentality."

    ~ John Sloan Gist of Art

  19. #15
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    Hudson River valley, NY
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    An important thing to remember, especially for those of high school age...

    Just because someone else is an ass, doesn't mean you aren't.

    Tristan Elwell
    **Finished Work Thread **Process Thread **Edges Tutorial

    "Work is more fun than fun."
    -John Cale

    "Art is supposed to punch you in the brain, and it's supposed to stay punched."
    -Marc Maron

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