“I don’t think there’s any such thing as teaching people photography, other than influencing them a little,” said Imogen Cunningham, the largely self-taught American photographer, who in later life tutored alongside Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Dorothea Lange and Minor White at California School of Design. “People have to be their own learners. They have to have a certain talent.”
It’s one of the central themes of our second annual special issue devoted to photography education, in which we profile two of the world’s most influential (and sharply contrasting) institutions – the Royal College of Art in London and Pathshala South Asian Media Institute in Dhaka – alongside reports on the workshop approach, and the experiences of laureates of the BMW Residency, both of which require a belief in self-learning and reflection. And while the methods may differ, the student-centred approach dominates. Rather than passively soaking up the knowledge of their masters, students are active participants, problem-solving on their own and developing a self-directed practice through which they learn about themselves as photographers.
Nor is it a one-way street. Stephen Shore, who like Cunningham learnt photography through his own research and encounters with key artists and individuals, puts it best in an interview focused around his role at Bard College in New York and his own unorthodox path. “Teaching forces me to engage other parts of my mind in the process [of making photographs] because I now have to be verbal, which clarifies things for me,” he tells Michael Grieve. “Teaching is a process that is truly altruistic and truly selfish without contradiction.”
– Simon Bainbridge, editor
The Education issue, is available to buy from thebjpshop and App Store now.
Any Answers: Broomberg & Chanarin
Polly Braden’s book Great Interactions records and interprets the lives of people with learning disabilities
Class 0f 2016, our pick of this year’s best photography graduates from British and Irish courses:
Simone Sapienza examines a Vietnam beyond its infamous history in Charlie Surfs on Lotus Flowers
Rocco Venezia brings his passion for research to his end-of-year project, Nekyia
Matthew Broadhead explores the earth-bound lunar landscapes where astronauts once roamed in Heimr
Ashley Bourne peers into life at Caldey Island monasteries in Benedict’s House
Giulia Parlato’s Isola muses on the notion of home via childhood tales and the epic journey of Ulysses
Little Big Man founder Nick Haymes on flourishing as an indie imprint
Creative brief: Max Barnett, founder and editor-in-chief of PYLOT, discusses the magazine’s analogue, no-retouching, ethos
Simon Baker, Tate Modern’s curator of photography, offers an insight into the institution’s approach to collecting images, ahead of the opening of its new extension
Our verdict on Nikon’s new top-of-the-range D5
Versatile and affordable: four of the best new lenses
Elinchrom EL-Skyport Plus HS, a wireless flash for Sony
Margaret Harker, the UK’s first female professor of photography, on the distinction between education and training
The Education issue, available in stores and in the App Store now.