1. As a photographer and photography teacher, how do you find a balance between fine art photography and commercial photography?
I do not think that I ever found a good balance between the commercial photography and the fine art photography. They contradict each other in every way! The commercial photography is all about another person's vision and will be used for marketing or advertising. In other words, it will be used to sell something. The fine art is about my vision. It's about my philosophy or the way that I see things and then somehow put it all together. I was able to use my vision in some commercial photography but it was more about how to do a photo session than the actual final product.
2. Your digital mastery program looks to be very comprehensive. Do students need to have any previous experience before taking these classes, and what are some of your goals for students to achieve in this program?
The Digital Mastery Program is created for the beginner: the person who just bought a camera and has no idea which button to press. This program is also good for the person who has a good idea about photography but wants to study it in depth. There is also the part II which is great for the advanced photographer. The idea is to understand the camera very well and to take control of the picture taking by making decisions. When you shoot in the auto mode, the camera will decide everything for you and there are many techniques that will not be very successful. So it will come down to this: do you want to create your photograph, or do you want your camera to create it?
3. For students who are located outside of the Miami area, what are some online learning options you offer?
For students who are from different states and countries, I teach via Skype! I love it and it has worked quite well. I am finishing a new series of classes that will be available online. Those will be for people who prefer to learn on their own.
4. What do students learn in your business classes, and are these online or in-person classes or a combination?
The photography business classes were designed after I met several self-taught photographers who asked me to teach specific techniques and began to ask about sales and marketing. As our conversation flowed, I saw that they needed a plan and to organize themselves so that they could actually create a profit while doing what they loved.
The business class are one-on-one online (via Skype). The students will do research and will have several assignments. So this has a large component of self-learning and the advantage of a number of real-time sessions to discuss things.
5. What inspired you to start teaching, and do you feel like your teaching influences your artwork (and vice versa)?
I have always enjoyed teaching. While I was working towards my MFA in photography, I did quite a bit of teaching-assisting or adjunct teaching. It is fun to exchange ideas and to be challenged creatively. I do not think that teaching has affected my artwork. It does make me think more and do a lot more research on photography--so maybe it has influenced me. I am not sure how!