Today was definitely a productive day.
I attended the Capturing True Emotion workshop on Understanding the Basic Elements of Photography in downtown Vancouver. I wish I took this course five years ago when I was starting out as it was able to compress all the knowledge that I have learned since I picked up my first DSLR. The workshop served more as a refresher course though I did learn a little bit on metering and some more info on shooting in manual mode.
The information was well presented and covers all the basics of digital photography but for most beginners I'm not sure if this information can be absorbed very easily. I have to give credit to my experience of trying to fiddle around with my camera on my own time to my understanding of photography. I am not sure if I could equate the experience of testing to being given the information, however clearly it may be explained. The price of the workshop is pretty steep in my opinion, $250 for the four-hour workshop, and another $200 for the "photo safari" afterwards. I am glad I only paid $50 from the Groupon as I didn't really get as much out of the workshop, though I will recommend it for anyone who wants a crash course in photography (maybe just the workshop though).
Afterwards, I attended the IAT Portfolio Workshop session. It was a really general overview on topics about creating an online portfolio and I couldn't really expect more and I have to give the team that put the workshop together props for doing a decent job. I have a list of ideas to go over regarding a portfolio that I have been mulling over the past few weeks that may be more in-depth than what they have gone over, and I'll try to refine it since I think it would be a good topic to discuss.
Talking with some people after the workshop, I realize I have a major gripe with how SIAT is designed right now where students are not prepared to create portfolio pieces when doing course projects. This is related to how I believe most SIAT students do not have the passion to do extraordinary work or have the drive to push the boundaries of their projects beyond the minimal requirements. This is my personal opinion based off my observations with other SIAT majors. There are obviously the exceptions of those who are willing to go the extra mile, but considering that SIAT is aspiring to be a design school (I hope?) it is having serious pitfalls in having students who are floating through the program with mediocre effort. I understand that SFU is a research institution by nature and not a practical design school, but this is a clash of principles of what I understand SIAT aims to be and how it exists within SFU.
In order for SIAT to truly become what it needs to be in order to create a school of design and innovation, it needs to break from the traditional tenets of being an academic university program and evolve into the format of art and design colleges and schools.