I have been fortunate to have had several great teachers during my academic education. It is through them that I’ve learned several key factors I currently incorporate in my own teaching. Some examples include creating a team involvement where the students work together in partnerships helping one another achieve his/her personal goals. When one member is having problems other students step up to help them face the challenge. In addition students contribute solutions that they may not have thought of and can relate to problems that they may faced before. By encouraging collaboration different viewpoints and ideas are expressed challenging students to consider other alternatives solutions.
As a photography instructor I encourage my students to constantly look at their environment and surroundings—challenging their critical viewpoints. For example, mass media campaigns, by dissecting and reevaluating what messages companies are trying to send their audience; then taking those ideas and reinterpreting the student’s view in their own photographic work. Challenging students to look outside the box and explore other avenues of art and need not be photography related. Asking the student to reinterpret what is a photograph.
I strongly believe in creating class assignments that reinforce photographic techniques. For instance, I have developed several in-class projects that focus on: motion and stop motion, using available light, simple 3 way lighting techniques, photographing thru water, depth of field, composition, story boarding, use of gray card, and food photography. By practicing concepts instead of relying on a book, these in-class exercises serve to reinforce ideas.
In addition, I encourage my students to start a personal photo archive of images, for use in their own photo projects as ideas and inspiration. I have created a website for the students to exchange ideas, ask questions, and share information. By creating a social media outlet the students have more interaction and input in what they want and expect in the class. It also provides me with a venue of any problems or questions that should be addressed in the class.
My goals for students are that they take the information learned in class and carry this information into other aspects of their education: reevaluation, interpreting, and questioning. By the end of the quarter they will have a created a body of work that they may potentially use for other courses and future educational endeavors.
I have created special studies classes to work with undergraduate students towards first hand experience on creating an art practice. The courses focused on several factors: gallery management, website development, cost analysis, photo management, and display construction.
My own research during the last five years have been focused in Oaxaca, Mexico. Over the years, it has developed into several phases. It began in 2006, in Oaxaca City, Oaxaca with my photographic journal on the teachers’ strike, and the violence that occurred during that struggle. It has evolved through 2011 with an interpretation of ceremonial, ritual practices, and the botanical environmental relationships of rural communities of native indigenous tribes and their influential significance on the Latino culture as well most of the western hemisphere. In the summers of 2010 and 2011, I was awarded Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTL) Scholarship and Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship to study Mixtec a lesser-known indigenous language. I feel that by being able to communicate to members in the community in their own languages enhances my level of commitment to the community and my research. My ultimate research goal has always dealt with giving back to the communities, and creating successful networks for the survival of their historical and future impact.