6 Things I Love About Teaching Photography In Italy

Siena - Workshop Student Photograph
Siena – Workshop Student Photograph

I Love Photography – It’s a medium of stunning beauty, tremendous power, subtle nuance and fascinating history.

I Love Italy – It’s a country of inviting people, grand vistas, intimate towns and rich culture.

I Love Teaching –  It’s a process of sharing, listening, guiding, critiquing and moving students forward.

I’ve been a photographer since 1978, a teacher of photography since 1984 and an Italian traveler since 1989. From the first time I photographed in Italy in 1989, the photo teacher in me wanted to share that experience with students. In 2009, I started bringing small groups to a country that I love where we could work together in the medium that I love.

Before that first Italian Photography Workshop took place, I was anxious – would my dream of sharing my multiple passions become reality? I quickly learned that it would and that this experience of taking photographers with me to Italy to learn and grow was even more rewarding than I had thought it would be.

Here are 6 things that I love about teaching photography in Italy:

Community Is Key

Keeping my groups to just 7 students means that everyone gets to know each other well, which means sharing vision, insights, tips and more comes easily. That sense of community is built equally well in the field as we photograph together or over a glass of wine. This environment is a fertile ground for restoring creativity and creating a new foundation for our creative lives.

Immersion Creates Intensity

Because we jump into photography and Italy with both feet, we really get to immerse ourselves in them. A camera is in hand – or nearby – every waking moment and, because we base all of the workshops in towns and cities, Italian culture is literally at our doorstep. That immersion creates an intensity of experience that is rare – we Live Photography while we are Living in Italy.

Slow is Good

The pace of Italian life tends to be slow – or at least slower than what most of the rest of the world puts themselves through every day. Slowing down means that we get to see more. Many travelers try to do so much in each day that they don’t get a sense of where they are or what it really feels like. The itineraries that I set for the workshops leaves time for wandering, contemplating, exploring and thinking about what our photographs mean and how they communicate that meaning. Slowing down is one of the keys to making great photographs.

Photography & Food Bring People Together

Photographing with other photographers can be a very rewarding experience. Not only do other photographers completely understand that you may need an extra few minutes to find the essence of a particular subject but they might also help you see something that you hadn’t seen before. Similarly, because we share great meals at excellent restaurants, we get to learn about each other as photographers and individuals.

The Classroom is Everywhere

Though I have taught photography for a long time, most of my experiences were in a classroom with desks and chairs. In Italy, my classroom is everywhere – in a hill town, in a vineyard, at breakfast or anywhere we happen to be. With workshop students, I get to have the experience of making photographs, looking at those photographs – either on the camera or on a computer screen – and then making more photographs- ones that are informed by the experience of looking, critiquing and guiding.

Storytelling Creates Focus

By getting students to think about story when they make their photographs, and using a variety of instructional strategies to get them there, the photographs they make are better, clearer and more personal statements than if they just shoot whatever they see. Together, we use our cameras to create stories that have a beginning, a middle and an end – and that makes all the difference in the quality of images that students make.

I hope you’ll join one of my workshops me and share these passions with me. A few spaces remain for my June, 2016 Italy workshops and registration is closing soon; click below for more information:

Questions or more information? Call Jeff at 630.202.3635 or email jeff@jeffcurto.com