Richard's Blog

Chicago’s Original Student-Centered Photography Program

What does it mean to be "student-centered"? How is a "student-centered" program different from other photography programs?

Other Art Centers try to impress you with what that and others have done... We want to impress – with what we will teach YOU to do.

Student centered means we are for you. Our class times are based on your needs, (10 classes each week in three cities). We offer multiple lab times to fit your schedule and needs. Our lab instructors are volunteers (one teacher for every 5 students). They've all been through the same classes you are attending and completed the same assignments.

Student centered means we deliver our proven curriculum the same way in every class, during each class week, so you can attend the class that best fits your schedule. If you have to work late, just attend any other class that "class week" and get the same lecture and assignment. You can also attend any lab and get the same lesson and handouts about Lightroom.

Student centered means we supply you with the special archival ink jet paper you will need for all of our Photo I classes, at no extra charge. We give you a notebook and a handout each week in your lab to complement the personal instruction you receive from our teachers. At the end of seven weeks, you have a manual to guide you as print your photographs at home or continue in a Photo II class.

When you attend classes here, you become part of the only true photography community in Chicago. What does that mean?

Everyone at Chicago Photography Classes is devoted to teaching or learning photography. If you continue on to Photo II or Photo III, you have access to the computer labs, darkroom and the studio and the studio lights 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Want to try a new lens? Someone will share one with you. Need some advice about how to do a photo job? Someone will help you understand how to proceed. Need some help with a exhibition print? The resources you need are here.

Our class size is restricted so everyone can learn. We work in a place with no parking meters. We are 500 feet from an El stop. We have spacious labs with PCs and iMacs and eight Epson best-in-class archival ink jet printers. Our classrooms have bright modern lighting and padded chairs so people are comfortable as they take notes and learn. We have seasoned adult classroom teachers.

Student centered means we focus on your achievement. We concentrate on teaching you skills that are useful to you and will help you achieve your goals. We don't run a program up a flag pole and see if anyone attends, our curriculum has been proven through more than 25,000 students. Those students have all spent about 40 hours learning in each 7-week session they have attended. That add's up to over one million hours of learning, this program starting in 1969. Through out the last 45 years we have hosted 50 exhibits of student work, Black & White & Color, originals from Film & Digital. We don't charge you a membership fee to be part of our community. We won't charge you for a portfolio review. Our only accent here is on learning with no cow pies of "personal philosophy". We even have a free camera buying service, to help you buy cameras and lenses so you get the best deal and buy the right stuff.

Richard started his first photography Program with the late James Hunt in 1969, at the Jane Addams Center/Hull House at Belmont and Broadway. For 33 years, Richard taught Film Photography. His legendary photography program was equal to the education students received at Photo I classes offered at the downtown colleges and universities, for one-tenth of the cost and none of the "elitism" and "arrogance" that so often accompanies "fine art programs."

With the support of hundreds of volunteers, Richard started his second learning center on Lincoln Avenue in 2002, (see Reader story). Richard started his third Learning Center, Chicago Photography Classes in February 2009. The new center continues all of the traditions started at the original student-centered program at Belmont and Broadway.

Student centered means, if you do the hard work necessary and come to class once a week for class and once for Lab, in nine months your photos will appear on the walls of our WithInSight Gallery, located at Withinsight Hall, 4001 North Ravenswood Avenue, Chicago. Take a look at our walls and imagine your photos there. You too will be on the wall if you work for it.

Unlike other programs in Chicago, we do not endeavor to provide employment for in need of work, unsuccessful photographers. In our classrooms, there are seasoned experienced teachers and practitioners of photography. Who Respect their students.