What being a teacher has taught me about photography (+ what it can teach YOU too!)

As an elementary teacher by day, there’s a lot of planning and preparing that goes into doing my job well.

What a lot of you may not know though is that my work in an elementary school involves teaching both the teachers and their kiddos. A lot of the lesson planning and methodologies I use to teach my adult ‘students’ is often the same as what I’d use with the little guys. But, the process, expectations, and outcomes are completely different.

With kids the buy in to my lessons is relatively easy.  I get to come into their classrooms bearing laptops, and iPads, and tech toys. They are easily motivated and tend to be sponges who soak in knowledge super quick.

My teachers on the other hand, come to me after an exhausting day of teaching, they usually want nothing to do with me or my technology (unless I bring chocolate…chocolate instantly makes learning sweeter). Adults are a little slower to adapt to rapidly changing technology and it can take quite a bit longer for my lessons to truly sink in.

The key to handling this dichotomy in my job is setting the intention for my lessons early (knowing if I’m teaching adults or kids) and planning for my audience accordingly.

You should be using this same idea of setting intention with your photography too.

The type of photos you can expect to capture during your daily family dinner are often different than what you’d aim to photograph during your annual Christmas Card shoot.

And, the images you can expect to capture with your DSLR will be different than those you will capture with your iPhone or point-and-shoot compact camera.

The planning and methodologies you use to take photos with either camera should be the same: looking for light, composing your shots creatively, telling a story, etc…but the process, expectations, and outcomes of those photos will be completely different.

These days, I always make a conscious choice before I shoot to choose the camera that is going to serve my intention the best, because as a mom it can be difficult to carry that bulky DSLR around with you 24/7.

For example, I made a decision this year to make my 365+1 photo a day project a solely iPhone project. (my October favorites are above!). My intention here was ease — to make this project one I truly could complete anywhere at anytime. I still get images of my little girl, but my expectations for professional quality photos during this project is not high. This project is all about documenting her growth and our daily life.

Today I challenge you to begin setting your photography intentions, choosing your camera and the purpose for your images before you shoot.

Do This Now:

  1. Grab a piece of scrap paper and fold it in half.  Label one half DSLR the other half Compact Camera
  2. On each side of that paper set your intention for each camera by listing 5 ways you’d most likely use your DSLR (holiday photos, childhood milestones, family field trips, etc…) and 5 ways you’d most likely to use your compact camera or cell phone (family dinners, out shopping, play dates with friends, etc…) in the next month.
  3. In the comments below share one of the ideas that came out of your brainstorm. What is one way you’re planing to use your DSLR? Your compact camera? Did you feel relief in that fact that it’s ok to not your your DSLR 100% of the time? Or are you setting the intention to pick up that DSLR more?

I was one who needed to release myself from the expectation of using my DSLR all the time. By thinking through my purpose before I shoot and setting that intention before I take my photos, I’ve completely reset my expectations. This process has made me realize that even as a professional photographer my images don’t have to be 100% professional quality 100% of the time.

Take some time today to think through who and what you are taking your images of then choose the most appropriate equipment and methods to achieve your desired results.

I’ll be waiting to hear your thoughts in the comments.

And as always if you got benefit out of this little exercise and found today’s post helpful I do hope you’ll take a quick minute to use one of the share buttons below to pass it along to your photo loving friends.


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