Teacher Reflects on Time as a Photography Teacher

Teacher Reflects on Time as a Photography Teacher
Photo Credit: Briana Green

In 1997 at University High School in Orlando, Florida Eric Mittman started his career as a photography teacher. Twenty-six years later, 22 of them at Sparkman, Mittman is continuing to teach the art. 

The legacy for Sparkman Studios began in 2003 when students printed their first eight by ten black and white print. 

“It had taken us three months to renovate an old portable me and all 15 students all screamed with joy and amazement. It’s pretty funny to think we were geeking out over one print,” Mittman said.

From black and white film to digital photography to a full-fledged studio, Mittman has grown the photography department. But the highlight for students in the six photography classes that make up the curriculum is the annual Sparkman Studios photo show. 

The photo show, held at the end of each semester, requires each student to print photos for the show. Photo one is required to print 10 photos and photo two through six is required to print 25 photos.

“The show is important to me because we get to show off how we improved during that semester and its great feeling to see other people proud when  looking at your photos.” Senior Isiah Billups. 

Besides the photo show, Mittman coordinates a summer trip where students can take photographs in different parts of the world, allowing them to use the skills they learn in the classroom. From France to Germany, Mittman has made memories with his students, but he says his peak moment as a teacher happened on a field trip in Greece.

“Watching my students photograph a sunset over the Aegean in Greece perched on the rooftop of a 17th century monastery was pretty cool, but mostly just getting to know my students and laughing with them,” Mittman said. 

Outside of teaching photography, Mittman runs his own photography business where he shoots weddings and portraits alongside just normal portraits. Even though his schedule is crazy he has found ways to stay organized. 

“I try to streamline my workflow in Photoshop to cut down on post-editing time,” Mittman said. “In order to maintain my organized schedule, I calculate how much time it will take to complete a job from start to finish.

Sparkman Studios is important to Mittman and teaching the photography students boils down to fun and relevance. 

“It’s important for students to be able to put what they’ve learnt in the classroom into their own day to day lives,” Mittlman said. I’m always excited for them to explore new places and then use what we’ve covered in class to create amazing images.”

Students in the photography classes know one thing and that is creativity this is something Mittman strives to teach his students. 

“The path of a creative is never a straight line. So, being successful in a creative field such as photography means you won’t be doing the same thing day in and day out. Some people love that kind of life. Some people don’t, it’s up to you to decide,” Mittman said.

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