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Photography Classes in Madison, WI: Our Philosophy

The crew here at Focal Flame Photography is passionate about learning, and we're passionate about photography. So when we developed a series of photography classes in Madison, WI as well as one-on-one photography lessons, we thought about our approach. A lot. In this article, lead instructor Austin Cope shares some of his ideas about teaching photography. 

 Austin Cope, Focal Flame staff photographer and photography instructor extraordinaire. And a great all-around guy. 

Austin Cope, Focal Flame staff photographer and photography instructor extraordinaire. And a great all-around guy. 

What is your approach to teaching?
In a few words? My approach is responsive and simplified. 

Responsive in that I adapt my teaching style to fit each individual student's experience level, learning style, gear, and goals; and simplified in that I present only useful and practical information in terms that are easy to understand. 

What you want, the way you want it. 

It's been a successful approach for me.

Why do you teach?
Many reasons. Mainly, I find it genuinely rewarding to pass along knowledge to eager students excited to learn this stuff. There's some kind of “teaching high” that comes from making confusing/intimidating/overwhelming concepts “click” for someone. 

What can students expect from a lesson or a class?
Progress! After we establish where you're at and where you're looking to be, we'll jump into getting you there. Really, as soon as you demonstrate an understanding of the basics, the photographic world is your oyster. In lessons, we can cover just about anything in as great a depth as you'd like from there. In classes, we focus on a specific set of concepts - and have fun a the same time.

For students taking one-on-one photography lessons, how many lessons are generally needed to make progress?
I'm not exaggerating (or bragging) when I say one. Multiple tutoring sessions can be great because they further break up material and allow for things like critique, but even after a single session you'll be much further along than when you started. 

What kind of comments have you heard from past students?
Time for a blatant brag: feedback has been entirely positive. Which is good; it means I've helped people. 

A piece that's always stuck with me: one student said that I not only did a great job, but importantly, didn't judge her for not already knowing this stuff. You know that old teacher or professor you had back in school that knew a ton but made you feel like an idiot when you didn't? That's not what I'm about.

Getting better at something involves admitting a shortcoming and choosing to face frustration head-on. Every photographer's been there, including me, and I want to help you through it.

In the most fun and least unpleasant way possible. 

Focal Flame Photography will be offering two classes in January:

Register now - enrollment is limited. Sign up for photography classes here