Siouxland is a Community, Le Mars, Orange City

18 May

This past Saturday ended another 6-week class session that I teach at the local community college, Western Iowa Tech Community College. My short classes are offered through the Lifelong Learning program of the school and are not credit courses, but programs geared to adults and those retiring baby boomers who have an interest in something they want to pursue. Having worked for newspapers over 25 years, it has been an interesting and fun switch to teaching people how to further their knowledge about photography and learning to use their cameras to photograph an image how the individual sees it, as opposed to setting the camera on program and letting it decide how an image should turn out. I spend a lot of time on composition, learning to see light and shadow and how together they help create an image the photographer wants to share with viewers.

The Photo Safari class is one week longer than the others and allows me to give an introduction to some aspects of photography and then spend four weeks actually going on location to photograph. The last day of class we share photos we each made at the various locations. Since I also teach in classroom sessions about photography, this particular class is geared to being in the moment, on location, and the class meets whether it is sunny, hot, raining, or snowing. Barring a major storm of any kind, the class is geared to help the students photograph what is before them at that moment in time, and I am on location to help, offering suggestions if needed as well as talking about composition, light and shadow, and other various photographic techniques.

I find this class the most fun simply because the people attending it truly become a small community for 6 weeks. And while friendships are made in the other classes I teach, here as we wander around the downtown of different communities, state parks, preserves and various entities looking for a photograph, these like-minded individuals explore with each other and share what they are seeing as well as helping one another achieve their own personal vision. And come the final week, albeit sad because it is the last day, it is fun to see how everyone interprets the same geographic location on their own terms and what fascinates them about the places we visit, and then to say goodbye.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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