The Art Institute of Pittsburgh — Online Division
Truly understand how a viewer experiences your work. Ted Fisher , Photography Instructor , The Art Institute of Pittsburgh — Online Division
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?
I was taking photos for the college newspaper, and my editor assigned me to cover a baseball game—I'd never covered sports before. He said he wanted a shot of the ball as it was being hit, at a key moment in the game. I used a Pentax K1000, a little manual-focus camera with no motor drive. It was good for single shots—definitely not the choice for shooting sports. The editor probably figured I couldn’t do it, but I came back with a shot of the winning hit—with the ball in frame just as it came off the bat.
How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?
There was a time when just making a film or video was a fairly amazing thing. Today, when we’re overwhelmed with visuals competing for our attention, getting and holding an audience’s attention is critical. I help students move from just delivering information to grabbing the audience with a strong story and a bit of drama. I push them to cut through all the clutter and make the audience feel something.
What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?
I always emphasize the idea of story. Whether the story is implied in a single image, the narrative in a photo series, or a powerful video story told in just 90 seconds, I push students to focus on strength of story as a way to communicate their ideas.
How does collaboration contribute to students’ success?
One of the best secrets about good class critique is that it amplifies your learning... instead of just looking at your own successes and failures, you help other students with comments and suggestions. It becomes a very effective way to learn in greater depth very quickly.
What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?
Truly understand how a viewer experiences your work. Appraise and re-appraise what your images can do by working on a structure that isn’t just pictures strung together, but tells a visual story.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I learn a great deal about my own craft by critiquing my students’ work.