This week, we continue our conversation with Jon Mortimer. Since online, interactive learning is still so new, I was especially interested in Jon’s take on the subject as it relates to his courses at TCI.
As a face-to-face instructor in London, and now online, aside from the “anytime, anyplace” aspect of online learning, what else do you think the online experience can offer?
Being a very hands on sort of person I was a little wary of the idea of on-line learning, but after really looking at how TCI course structures work and spending time developing and writing my courses I am a convert. I was at first worried that it would lose the personal touch, where the students would just feel like a cog in the machine and not that they were really being noticed and encouraged. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
“…but the chance to then upload and have a personal critique of your work is really where you start to learn about YOUR photography and YOUR vision. This is where you are then able to progress.”
The courses are not just downloads that you read and then move on from. I think, and this seems to be the consensus of my students too, that the assignments are the real gem in this crown. By having an assignment that gets you out there putting into practice what you have learned is one thing, but the chance to then upload and have a personal critique of your work is really where you start to learn about YOUR photography and YOUR vision. This is where you are then able to progress. This gives it the feeling of a face-to-face lesson where discussions can begin and turn into steps forward.
You are offering three online courses through TCI: Digital Photography Beyond the Basics, Contemporary Portrait Photography and now a new one in development, Self-Portraits. What do you want your prospective students to know about these courses?
I see The Contemporary Portrait Course as a great adventure of self discovery. Okay, so we look at a few technical matters, lenses and light but Portrait Photography is much more than that. It is a way of finding out how we see the world and the people around us. I like to approach portraiture as if I am that person’s biographer.
I look at what we try and accomplish through a portrait and then what we will inevitably end up with. As much as we try, we cannot tell the subject’s story entirely; we will however tell our story of that individual, how we see and perceive them. I also look at our most useful tools other than the camera and the lens; our ability to listen, our subject’s environment and time itself.
The Self-Portrait Course is in development at the moment but will be a fun look at the history and development of photographic self reflection and the ways in which we can capture our own stories. It will be a course on the visual autobiography if you like.
I also teach Digital Photography: Beyond the Basics: going through the process of working with the digital equipment we have at our disposal now. I address how we can harness the technology to take further creative steps and how to manage our digital work flow. It is a more technical course, but through the wonderful assignment structure, I bring in creative aspects where we don’t allow ourselves to lose our imagination and our creativity.
Tell us about your upcoming exhibition. Where, When, Theme?
The whole project is entitled “The Madness of St George” and it has begun its life as a living breathing mass… It comprises a pictorial journey through the England of my memory and dreams to see if it still exists in this age of the global high street…I believe England should be enjoyed for all its madness, eccentricity and quirks, whether they be sweet or maddening. This is the idea: a celebration of the spirit, individuality and heart of the people and their country and the history and the future of the areas that still thrive in my family’s old photograph albums.
The project will culminate in an exhibition and a published book. Along the way, however, I am chronicling the journey with a photographic blog. The plan is also to get interest in the project with a series of talks about the process and the idea along the way in galleries in the areas that will feature in the book. No dates yet but follow the blog and all will be revealed along the way.