Three great photography teachers share their wisdom.
For young photographer Ralph Clevenger it was one of those mountaintop moments-literally. As a shooter breaking into stock photography, he'd gone with his mentor, photographer Craig Aurness, to a high point above the Santa Ynez Valley to get an aerial perspective.
As Clevenger surveyed the scene below him, Aurness asked him, "What's the money shot?"-the image that would make the whole trek worthwhile.
Clevenger looked around. He had to admit he had no idea.
"Turn around," his teacher suggested.
Clevenger did so, and he found himself staring in wonder at the twisting path of the dirt road they had taken up to reach their high vantage point. That was the money shot.
Thinking back today-many years and photos later-on that and other lessons he learned from the late National Geographic shooter, Clevenger, who now teaches photography himself, says Aurness "pretty much taught me what I needed to know in order to be successful" as a stock photographer.
Nothing teaches like experience-although, of course, magazines and books can help a lot. But rare is the photographer whose career has not been touched at some point by a gifted teacher.
Photographers have an unusual advantage when it comes to finding instruction. An amateur golfer or business student probably won't come any closer to a world-class player or a Fortune 500 CEO than the autograph line. But in photography, the very best in the business often give workshops and teach classes open to just about everyone.
Also, those photographers who've chosen to teach full-time often still shoot professionally on the side, meaning their experience comes from a lot more than just the classroom. In photography, those who "can do" often teach as well.
Here's a look at three different teachers of photography. Hailing from different parts of the country and emphasizing different aspects of shooting, all of them offer their students insights needed to push the limits of their art. And they share their tips on the pages that follow.