How A Pen And Paper Will Help You Learn Photography

How A Pen And Paper Will Help You Learn Photography



How A Pen And Paper Will Help You Learn Photography


When I first moved to DC, before I started teaching my own photography classes in Washington DC, I began teaching photography at a place called the Washington School of Photography.

Specifically, I began teaching photojournalism, but I found myself enjoying teaching and asked that they consider allowing me to teach more of their curriculum. In short, they considered and I began teaching more stuff.

As a side note,  they were located in Bethesda, MD. But I imagine they were located in Maryland because they were a teaching/learning institution accredited by the state. To make a long story short they moved to Rockville, MD. and then went belly up.

Anyhow, I enjoyed teaching but apparently,  based on student feedback, some students thought the classes could have been better.  Because according to the surveys, it wasn’t that the students weren’t learnin’, it was that there weren’t enough handouts or visual presentations such as Powerpoint.

Bread And Circus and Teaching Photography

I made the argument to the administration that I handed out the required syllabus, and as long as the students were learnin’ why bother with the bells and whistles of handouts and visual presentations? After all, the students were required to purchase a relatively expensive book; we would work with that if  my verbal teaching required written reinforcement. The administration stated that the handouts and visual presentations would act as a bread and circus.  As a result, I compromised. Specifically, I didn’t wanna learn how to do Powerpoint presentations, so I began producing and handing out handouts.

The Wastfullness Of Handouts

I found these handouts to be wasteful, not only in an environmental way but also in terms of a waste of time. They were a waste of time for the simple reason that I had to go over the handouts to clarify what I meant by my written words on the handouts.
I continued the habit of making handouts when I started teaching my photography classes in Washington DC.; that didn’t last long. After a couple of classes, I stopped making handouts and asked students to start bringin’ something to take notes with. Some brought a pad and writing implement, others brought a computer.

The Importance Of Taking Notes

Taking Your Own Notes Vs. Getting A Handout

When we take our own notes while a teacher is speaking, the process is spontaneous and we translate what the teacher says into our own words through our own thought process.
On the other hand, when we get a handout, we’ve gotta read the handouts and then, if we don’t understand what is meant by the specifics of the handout, we gotta ask the teacher for clarification.

Taking Notes With a Computer

From my own experience, I find taking notes on a keyboard, less effective than taking notes in my own sloppy handwriting. Maybe that it’s that I more concerned with the process of typing exactly what the teacher says rather than engaging in the process of listening and transcribing what I hear into my own words with a pen and paper.

Taking Notes, By Hand, With A Writing Implement And Paper

From my own experience, when I take notes by hand I have the opportunity to ask the teacher for clarification on the fly.  And that allows me to translate the teacher’s words into my own words. In addition, I write quickly and because I’m writing quickly, I write sloppily.  As a result of my sloppy writing, I need to go back and re-write my notes to make them understandable.

How A Pen And Paper Will Help You Learn Photography

Personally, my experience of learning and taking notes has, at least for me resulted in more effective learning. Even more than my personal experience, there’s some science to back this up. If ya do a browser search of “taking notes by hand”, you’ll come up with a bunch of articles referring to the studies. To be clear, the studies aren’t specifiaclly about how a pen and paper will help you learn photography. They’re about how taking notes by hand results in more effective learning.  

A Link To One Of The Studies

Below you’ll find a link to one of the studies that are relevant to how a pen and paper will help you learn photography.

This is a quote from the study: “Instead, they listen, digest, and summarize so that they can succinctly capture the essence of the information.”

Here’s the link to the study–>



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