Mentor: JOhn Weiss
John Weiss apprenticed with the legendary Minor White and earned his MFA with Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind. For 30 years he was a professor of art and director of the photography program at the University of Delaware, where he earned the “Excellence in Teaching” award. In 2006 he was named “Teacher of the Year” by the Santa Fe Center for Photography.
John has led travel photography workshops all over the world, including seven safaris to Africa. The author of The Face of Baseball and Venus, Jupiter & Mars, he is currently working on The Maasai of the Mara Rianta: Photographs and Legends of Africa. John’s photographs are in numerous public and private collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, among others.
John has taught at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops for 16 years. His Web site address is www.johnjjweiss.com.
“Photography, for me, is a sacred journey. It is my calling. It is my way of finding my best self. It shows me the way. Walking this path is not without fear; but I have learned to not be afraid of being afraid. I acknowledge fear, put it in my back pocket, and move on. Of course, that’s easy to say. But the thing is, I’ve done it.
“Now, what is this fear? It’s the worry of finding out that I’m a fraud. It’s the anxiety of finding out how shallow I am. But that’s all right. Fear lets you know that you’re alive. It lets you know that things matter. It tells you that you’ve not taken the easy way. It opens your heart. It dares you to find your personal truths. It confirms that there’s honor in the journey.
“So, photography is not easy. Isn’t that wonderful?
“My job as a teacher is to help you find what matters. It’s to help you see what you’ve seen. It’s to support and encourage and coach you on how to evaluate your work with a clear eye, a discerning eye. It’s to set a standard for excellence.
“It’s simple, really. I want to awaken in a student what it is to be alive, awake, and aware in this world. I want to arouse in students a different way of seeing their world, where what once seemed ordinary is now seen as extraordinary. This is not mere babble. I know how to do this. I take joy in this.”
In the end, teaching is not about imposing my discoveries on my students. It’s about helping students find their own way, make their own discoveries. Then those discoveries are earned. They are hard won. And they serve to sustain us as we continue the search, through photography, for meaning and significance.
Here’s a promise: If you’re willing to work hard and try new ideas, together we will take your seeing to the next level, and you will have a solid platform for continued growth.