My Big Summer Project

For the past nine years I’ve worked on the same big project each summer. And each fall I take that material and go on the road with it, starting another season of Nikon School.

One of the things I love about photography is that you never run out of new things to try. For teaching, that means you can always find new material to use and new ways to explain even the basics. And that’s what I’ve spent much of this summer doing, re-building those Nikon School programs.

We do two programs – a basic program on Saturday, and a more advanced one on Sunday. An entire day to talk about photography seems like a lot until you start doing it. Then you realize just how complicated photography really is. For someone new to it, things like f/stops and ISO can be downright intimidating. And explaining the technical side, while also showing people how to be creative and have fun, is a challenge. If we just do technical, they’ll be asleep by noon. If we don’t teach the technical, they’ll never be as creative as they want to be. It’s a balancing act.

Our school year runs from October to June, and once we finish in June, I head down to the basement office and start all over again. I enjoy this, which lets me add to and change the program based on the students’ responses, and make it fresh for the instructors each fall. And I’m rewarded by students each year who stop by at the end of the

“Techy Tidbits” is when we spend a few minutes on some fun, esoteric techniques.

day to tell me they come back every year, and find it fun and inspiring.

The last part of what makes this process fun for me is the printing. Each year we travel with 15-20 large-format prints, to show what the Nikon cameras, lenses and software are capable of. Which means that right now I’ve got both my large printers humming, and printing some of my favorite photos from the last six months. There’s a big difference between seeing a picture on screen, and having one on paper. A friend of mine once said, “It’s not really a picture until you hold it.” He’s right.

This fall I’ll start my tenth year of teaching Nikon School, and I’ve enjoyed every year of it. If you want to find out more about what we teach, and where we’re doing the schools, visit

Some of the prints I’ve made for this year’s schools.