I’ve always found that the best way to become an expert is to teach other people! That may sound strange. Arn’t you supposed to become an expert first, then teach others? Normally I guess I’d agree, except its a matter of definition. You’re an expert when you know more than someone else, so as long as you teach people who know less than you do, your the expert. Now if you’re an honest “expert”, and I hope I am, you still work hard to provide value to those you are teaching, even if you are not THE worldwide expert on the topic. I hope I never pass myself off as a worldwide expert in anything.
A case in point. I consider myself pretty good at image post processing. By no means do I put myself in the same universe as others I see and follow out there like Jimmy McIntyre, and the Kelby Crew, or others listed on my site. I am however relatively good in the local-guy-in-the-neighborhood way. I want to become much better, and I’ve been extremely fortunate to be chosen as President of our local Photoclub. A “modest” little club with close to 100 members. I say “modest” see this post. We have a Post Processing Special Interest group as part of the club activities, and we meet once per month. The folks in this group are great, and as eager to learn, as am I. Working with this group has given me several opportunities to present Post Processing topics. I’ve made it a habit to work really hard preparing for the sessions, as a way of teaching myself as much as I can about the topic, and after the meeting I write up a detailed summary of what we discussed, as a way of reinforcing the learning…For myself. Of course I hope the learning gets through to the rest of those attending, and is reinforced by the subsequent write-up, but one of the really powerful things about teaching like this is that I probably learn more than anyone else! I’ve even used this argument with others in the group to cajole them into presenting.
Our subject last night was Exposure Blending. Before the meeting I listed as may ways to do this as I could come up with. I found videos and articles online, testing them out until I could do them well, and then taught them. Of course I didn’t start from scratch. I knew and had been using most of the techniques prior to having to teach them, but teaching makes one go much further. It makes you try to really understand what is going on, and why…after all, you are the “expert”. Here’s my post meeting write up.