Reflections of an Old Photography Teacher

The first time I ever taught a photography class was in 1978.  That was back in the days of film. (Some of you remember those days.) Well, over the years, I have been involved in, supported, and founded numerous photography groups/clubs.  I have loved working with so many truly beautiful individuals who have a common interest in photography.

I don’t like to describe myself as an “old photography teacher” but when I look in the mirror, with each year that passes, I am discovering an older guy looking back at me. (And that annoys me just a bit.)

The older I get, the more I find myself reflecting on all of my wonderful experiences with so many of you.  In fact, I think I am coming to realize that even though I LOVE photography, what has really been the most meaningful thing to me really is YOU.  All of you. 

When I think back to all of our various experiences in the various classes I have led over the years, wow, what a wide range of incredible experiences we have had.

I have stood in a frigid wintery 30mph wind on the side of a mountain photographing the sunrise while everyone in my group  shivered and grumbled about the cold, but it was a fun experience we still talk about.  I have run through a forest in the rain with fellow photographers as we all sought shelter from a sudden rain storm. We have spent time in classes together talking about all aspects of photography. We have hiked miles and miles of trails together.  We have shared a few beers or cups of coffee and talked about life. We have had a few exciting close encounters with wildlife. We have stayed up very late under a cold dark sky photographing the stars.  We have photographed mountains and portraits and water droplets.  We have eaten burgers by a mountain stream. We have laughed and shared many many smiles, and we have cried together.  We have experienced life together.  And THAT is what I am finding really matters the most to me.

I have found that in the midst of the diverse group of people who have come my way and have taken my many classes, I am overwhelmingly grateful to know each of you.  I don’t mean that as a simple platitude.  I really mean that with all my heart. (I mean to the point that I have a tear in my eyes when I think about all of you.)

I believe it is really important to stay in tune with what matters in life.  The pursuit of fame and fortune sometimes sounds attractive, but actually none of those things really matter as much to me.

As I reflect on all the ways all of you have blessed my life, I realize I have so many people I would truly call “friend,”  I figure I am wealthy beyond measure.  Thank you all for being “you.”

I tried to give you all some small bit of photographic knowledge, but I think what I got back from you was far more valuable.  You may not have even realized just how much you mean to me.

The main reason I created the LifeInsights group that meets intermittently at my studio on Monday nights is really an affirmation of just  how much I think our relationships with others around us matters immensely.  It is a way to genuinely go a little “deeper” into sharing our life experiences and insights.  In a sense I am pushing back on the trend of social media that is causing our relationships to be more superficial. So the LifeInsights Monday night group is simply meeting and discussing various books or videos or we go out to dinner. 

I am on a mission to make the world a better place.  Granted my small actions won’t change the whole world, but perhaps our small actions matter more than the bigger ones. When I think back on who had the greatest impact on my life, it was not big name celebrities or politicians or famous people.  It was people like my 1st grade teacher.  I figure we ALL can do something to rebel against this polarization of society and harm being caused by social media becoming way too anti-social (some irony there).

Maybe we can make the world a better place by simply taking the time to know people around us a little more. Take the time to listen to their stories, and show a little more love and patience. If we all did that just a little bit, maybe that is enough to change the world.

Thank you for making my world so full.

Immensely grateful for each of you who has taken any of my photography workshops over the years.

Kevin Gourley

Kevin's book "30 Practical Tips for Better Photographs" is available in print and on Kindle devices!

11 thoughts on “Reflections of an Old Photography Teacher”

  1. Your classes would not have been as impactful had the instructor not been “you”. Your patience, your knowledge and your respect for your students brought a level of superiority to the lessons that I have not experienced elsewhere. I am happy my search to learn photography brought me to your Austin classes. Now that I live in Oklahoma, I miss the opportunity to join your groups and your classes. The time spent learning in your classes will always be remembered fondly. Thank you Kevin for your beautiful note to us all.

  2. Kevin,
    Thank you for your beautifully written insight. Thinking about the time in your class always brings a smile to my face. I was going through a lot of personal things in my life, and taking your class was always the highlight of my week. Thank you for sharing your heart of photography! You’ll always be our “K-dog” when we speak of you.


  3. Thank you, Kevin, for a great, sentimental, Blog. David & I loved our photography classes with you. You are not only the BEST instructor ever, but a special friend as well. You touched our lives with your kindness and sincere spirit.
    We recently purchased our vacation/retirement home in Sedona, AZ. We think of you every time we put our finger on that shutter button and marvel over the endless, breathtaking views we capture. We definitely plan to take another class with you. See you soon.

  4. “Experienced” photographer that is. ?

    One of my students once told me that he gets jealous of older people, because he may not get to be old. He didn’t, but he lived 10 years longer than he was “supposed to” with his disease. (I teach cancer patients.) I think of what he said when I start grieving my lost youth. I am still here. I have opportunity to create. I have opportunity to spread joy and connection.

    Thank you Kevin for your kind and connection-building spirit. ?

  5. 🙂 Thanks Carla.
    Maybe the best word that describes me isn’t really “old”… it’s simply “grateful”.

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