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.