My Fear of Teaching And How I Broke Through


“Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”

An old adage that you’ve likely heard at one point in time. For me, it cemented itself into reality and I never questioned the potential falsehoods within its words. It wasn’t until a couple years ago when I became a teacher of my craft that I saw what a ridiculous statement it truly was.

In the past, I’d often speak of formal education with a sense of arrogance. I’d highlight that I didn’t know very many successful photographers who got their bachelors in photography. Mock those who spent tens of thousands of dollars on something they could learn through an internet forum or practice. I thought somehow that my informal education was better, and set me up for a brighter future.

I’ve learned that the practices and techniques I teach can be implemented in an infinite number of brilliant ways.

Through that same arrogance, I held professors on the topic of photography at somewhat low standards. I thought to myself, “They know color and composition but they don’t know how to utilize it, so they teach it instead.”

Eventually, through general growth, I was able to suppress my own self-entitled thoughts on the topic and find ways to encourage others to become better photographers. If someone didn’t know how to express themselves through art, I’d try to guide them. If they didn’t understand the technical aspects of ISO, I’d talk to them about it. And if they didn’t feel inspired, I’d give them a list of books and music that inspired me. Eventually I decided I wanted to do more.

About a year ago, I decided to get over my fear of teaching, take my knowledge of photography and show it off to others in the form of workshops and tutorial series. Sure, I had been writing tutorials and informative articles for a variety of publications at the time, but I really wanted to take education for photographers to the next level. I had been making a name for myself as a photographer all over the United States and I wanted to show people that with the right hustle, anyone could do what I was doing.

Zach Sutton workshops - Pyragraph

I’m now about a year into these workshops and I’ve watched so many other photographers develop their craft and passion. However, the person who has grown the most has been me. I’ve learned that we’re all so different, and that’s wonderful. I’ve learned that the practices and techniques I teach can be implemented in an infinite number of brilliant ways. And these newfound discoveries for me have taught me so much more about photography than I ever thought it could. So I propose that we change that cobweb-filled proverb.

“Those who can, do. Those who teach, learn.”

This knowledge, understanding and discovery has made me completely redesign how my workshops are structured. Before, I’d show others exactly how to do what I’m doing, without a lot of explanation as to why. Now, I teach the why, and let them discover their own version of how. I build foundations on topics instead of giving them the tour of my own built building, and I show them how to do things that fit within their own expression and style.

The result?

Unique photos from everyone, each one complementing how they want to photograph others.

For more information on my workshops and education resources, please check out my workshops website. For more information on my photography, feel free to browse my photography website and let me know what you think.

Photos courtesy of Zach Sutton.

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