General Class Information

How This Class Works.

Photography at Galileo is all digital.

All photography really is about composition (the elements of a shot) and lighting, so this is what we emphasize.  To do this, we cover a range of photo categories such as portrait, motion, still life, food, etc.  and do so through in-class assignments and homework.

In-Class Assignments: This is where  a technique is introduced.  Students shoot a technique during class time. Early assignments are done twice, the first time for practice and the second time for a grade, but as students get used to working in the studio, once for a grade is sufficient.  A camera (Canon 40D) is provided.  Duration for these assignments vary due to the complexity of the assignment, student skill level, and problems brought about by whatever it is that can get in the way (and that can be anything) but when things get moving we can usually get through an assignment in 2-3 weeks. Most of the studio work is done in groups, incidentally. During the first semester the individual student gets the grade and during the second semester, the group gets the grade. Students are allowed to choose their own groups of 3-5 people.

Homework: Yes, there are homework assignments.  Students get to expand on what they are learning and be creative. Subjects are assigned and are often (but are not necessarily) based on what’s being covered in class. Assignments consist of multiple shots on the assigned theme (number of photos vary based on the theme) and are usually due every 2 weeks. Assignments must be submitted by USB flash drive and cameras ARE NOT supplied for these assignments.  Students may, however, use whatever best captures an image: cell phone, iPhones, iPads, iPods, iStuff, etc. Camera sharing is permitted and even encouraged if it will get the work done but students who share cameras must turn in completely different photographs and not variations on what happened to be around when the shots were taken.

Cheating: Defined as 1) handing in someone else’s work, 2) handing in work done before the assignment was given, 3) using a computer to crop the work. There are ways to determine these and while I don’t catch everything (sigh…), if a student is caught doing this, an F is given regardless of the status of the other photos in the assignment. This applies to studio work, too.

Grading:  Assignments are graded according to 1) creative ideas and presentation of the subject, 2) the difficulty factor: did you try something difficult or stick to what was easy (and trying something difficult and failing always gets more points than sticking with what is easy), 3) creative use of photo techniques  4) how well the work fits what was assigned, and 5) does it all equal an interesting to look at photograph.  All five elements present are an A, four elements are a B, three elements are a C, two or one are/is a D, and no work handed in is an F. Handing in something will get some sort of grade (although possibly not a good one).  Late work is not accepted.  If a student knows work will be late, however, see me and let me know.  Extensions can be granted if the circumatances warrant.   It is the student’s responsibility to let me know if there are problems when there is still enough time to do something about it. (See also Educational Philosophy.)

Computer Use: Students are encouraged to do all their editing, cropping, etc. in the camera when they take the photo. Computer editing at this point can encourage laziness ( also known as the “I’ll fix it in Photoshop” Syndrome) and bad habits grow rampantly, eventually leading to the end of civilization as we know it. (Schnitzer realizes that you, dear reader, are not the problem, but that everyone else is looking awfully darned suspicious.) Computers can, however, be used in class to transfer photos from camera to flash drive but not within 24 hours of when the assignment is due. They have a place in research, too, and in some parts of the galaxy are eaten as appetizers and supposedly are good with mayonnaise. Note that computer cropping is never allowed, wheather it’s to the photograph or the computer.

Educational Philosphy. The teacher’s reason for being is to show students how to do things they aren’t necessarily able to do (or maybe didn’t even know existed) and then encourage them to grow in their abilities to use their new-found knowedge and skills to go beyond what they are normally used to.  Education, Schnitzer believes, is not bringing the world down to your level but, rather, bringing you up out of your level to something higher.  Therefore, students must reach beyond what they feel comfortable with. They are enocuraged to solve by themselves the various problems that will arise.  Photography is all about problem solving.  This doesn’t mean the teacher is not concerned about students’ problems. (The teacher really is concerned about them. It keeps him awake all day.)  It just means the teacher will not sove the problems for the student.  Advice is given if asked for (and often in advance of that request.)  Students are also encouraged to explore freedom of creative expression.  While some subjects are not encouraged, either because they are not considered appropriate for a high school art class or because they are too cliched, the general rule has been that if Schnitzer doesn’t say not to do it, then it can be asumed that it’s okay.  If the resulting work turns out to be a violation of something Schnitzer wasn’t thinking of (but should have been), the student will not be penalized but the loophole will be closed immediately and loudly. Students in this situation usually get to redo the work.

Questions?  Email me at  (Please note that the second “r” in “Schnitzerr” stands for the first initial of his first name.  No, it doesn’t mean that nobody knows how to spell his name correctly.)