Teaching Artist of the Month: Feb. 2017

Mark Nowak

What is your primary artistic medium?

I am a Photographer, I use a Nikon D800.

How did you get started as a teaching artist?

I have always been the photographer to “teach” even when were just walking around, every moment is a teaching moment. About 4 years ago I was approached by a lady from the Lorain County metro parks and was ask if i could teach a nature photography class and I accepted.

How does teaching inform your own artistic process?

I get some of my best ideas and inspiration from my students.

 Why do you think working with older adults is important?

We never really stop learning. These classes are great way to stretch your mind and besides that, it is fun!

What has been the biggest surprise in working with older adult learners?

I think it is there sense of humor, and there ability to stay “young” no matter there age.

What skills are most important when working with older adults?

To be yourself. You have to remember that older adults aren’t new to this learning process. They have lead their lives, raised their kids and worked their jobs. If you go in as some “know it all” your not going to get very far. Never be afraid to admit you don’t know something, but assure them you can find the answer, and having a great sense of humor always helps.

What advice would you give someone that wants to do this work?

Love what you do, have a deep desire to share what you know, and have a great sense of humor, because making it fun is the best part of teaching.

What have been your biggest challenges? How do you respond?

I think it is keeping up with the “paper work” with 20 students in the class and each of them turning in 2 images in each week. It is very time consuming, critiquing them and getting them back to the student, BUT this is one of the best ways for me to teach them. Photographers are very visual learners. So when I say to the students “you need to tone down your highlights or lighten up your shadows”, they know what I mean. For the most part every thing that I would suggest to them we have talked about in class, and if we haven’t I go over it the next week.

Tell us a short story from one of your classes that demonstrates the benefits of Creative Aging for participants.

I taught for Cuyahoga County Public Library for the first time in the spring of 2014. We had a full class of 21 students. Right up in front of the class was Bob and his wife Nancy, they were eager to learn something about photography but their photo gear was easily 10 to 12 years old. Each week they came and took in what I had to teach them.

After our class ended they continued with there photographic journey and have joined me and my friends on several photo shoots. Bob and Nancy have gone from simple point and shoot cameras to High end Nikon DSLR’s with several lenses to use for various photo shots. This is a prime example of what Lifetime Arts is all about. At a time in their life where they could just sit on the front porch and sip tea they’re out learning and enjoying life seeing the world through a different perspective, slowing down and taking pictures. Not only was I instrumental in teaching them photography I have made two good friends, it doesn’t get much better than that.

What are your current and upcoming projects of both your own work and teaching assignments?

I just finished putting my 2017 schedule together. I will be teaching a Basic Photography class, Basis Lightroom class,  Advanced Photography class, and Lighting 101 class. Go here and join to get info on all my classes.

Thank you Mark for your wonderful work with Lifetime Arts.

To contact Mark, check out his Teaching Artist Profile on Lifetime Arts’ Roster.

Search the Roster to find qualified Teaching Artists in your area.

Check back each month where we will feature a new Teaching Artist who has excelled in their work with the Creative Aging process.

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