While some of us are driven to work by the sole purpose of finding a spoon of rice to feed ourselves with; the joy that accompanies a profession, which serves as a medium to help others, provides food for the soul that no amount of money can buy. Everyday tasks become more meaningful because the work is no longer motivated by self-gain, but by a willingness to improve the wellbeing of others. A hallmark example of this is the story of Dela Nadia, a full-time photographer and designer here at YCAB.
“It all began while I was taking pictures at the Study House. The camera sparked the students’ curiosity several times, to the point where they interested in being taught photography” recalled Dela. Initially, Dela didn’t respond to their requests genuinely because she considered their interest in photography as a momentary attraction. However, one student in particular demonstrated his genuine interest by appearing at Dela’s office in YCAB out of the blue and pleading her to teach him photography.
After her initial surprise with the student’s spontaneous appearance, Dela put forward an agreement. She asked that the student gathered his friends who were also interested in learning photography. Given he successfully collects 10 people, Dela promised that she’d start an exclusive photography class for them herself. Of course, this condition wasn’t created without reason, Dela admitted she wanted to ensure the student didn’t lose motivation while studying photography due to a lack of classmates.
Dela explains, “I asked him to keep my number and alert me when he’d gathered 10 students who were willing to study with him. Unsurprisingly, he went and collected 10 students from PC 3 and together, they pushed me to create a photography class.” Refusing to disappoint the children, Dela stuck to her promise.
Initially, she intended the photography class at Rumah YCAB to be an extracurricular activity. However, after further discussion with the internal team at YCAB, it was decided that it was to be ran as a self-development class which was held once a week outside of class hours. Dela explains “In this class, I simply teach. The students are the ones who play an important role. I always make it a point to ask what they want or need to know. My principle is that we shouldn’t provide them with so much direction such that it becomes restricting and stunts their creativity.”
Furthermore, Dela provides us with an outline of the class material by sharing three main points with us;
First are the basic techniques of photography. Here, Dela covers angles, composition, ISO, all the way up to the exposure triangle. She delivers these concepts in a generalized manner such that it isn’t too detailed or specific. The reason for this approach is because photography is very broad in terms of study. If the students wish to receive more in-depth practical knowledge on photography technique, they can always learn through external sources like YouTube. In this instance, Dela serves only to provide stimulus material or spark the curiosity of her students. Beyond the class, the students are expected to take their own initiative and explore photography independently.
Secondly, Dela tries to balance material related to the use of cameras with material regarding the creativity of producing photos with mobile phones. According to Dela, it is imperative that her students learn to operate professional cameras such that they are equipped to enter the workforce later.
However, creativity is also a necessity such that they aren’t limited by equipment and can utilize whatever technology they already have at hand. “For work, it makes sense to require equipment which produce images with good resolution. Even then, what is more important is to practice foresight and a sense of seeing things or events,” explained Dela. “During class time, the camera is on loan from me. Even though the students don’t have professional cameras, they have smartphones. These can be used as an alternative, especially now when there are many digital platforms to share photos instantly like Instagram,” she explains further.
The third main point in the syllabus is essentially any additional material that comes from guest lecturers and is still related to the world of photography. Dela has mentioned that she doesn’t want to take control over the whole learning process. Instead, she wants her students to receive more diverse knowledge and meet new people. Therefore, Dela regularly invites external speakers. An example was a popular photographer on Instagram, Anstonski, who discussed material on personal branding. During meetings with Antonski, students are taught about photography in the virtual universe, how to edit photos with applications on their mobile phones, and how to characterize the photos they upload to social media. “After that session, the students were made to change their Instagram account names. What was previously strange was changed to make it more accessible to others” said Della. Additionally, Dela plans to invite another photographer in the future to provide material on Adobe Photoshop, “The material on photo-editing will be given as soon as the main aspects of photography are covered. Obviously they need a finished photo before they can move into editing,”
So far, the students have demonstrated exceptional enthusiasm. In addition to always being excited when learning new concepts, they’re diligent in taking the initiative to explore the material provided independently. “Maybe it’s because I stated that it would be useless to give even an endless number of theories if they didn’t practice or apply the material taught,” explained Dela proudly, “Even though they may not be hunting together, they enjoy taking pictures themselves and sending the results through WhatsApp. After that I usually provide some assistance. I’ll ask why they chose to photograph what they did, shed some light on how their finished result is related to their technique and give them answers if they have questions.”
Dela hopes that this class can provide benefits which extend beyond just producing good photos. She wants the photography class to ensure the students are prepared to enter a professional industry. “Of course, the hope is that they’ll be able to find work and improve their economic conditions in the future with whatever skills they obtain from this class.” For this reason, Dela often shares information on camera rental places, social media, job opportunities in photo studios, how to get clients or consumers and how to set prices for photography services. “Nowadays everything requires photography. This could be an opportunity if they (the students) are well-prepared. By the time they enter field, they shouldn’t face a sliver of confusion.” said Dela.
When asked about her impressions on being a teacher, Dela admitted that she encountered many unexpected things while teaching. “First of all, I obviously didn’t expect them to be as excited as they were about a self-improvement photography class. In addition, even though they enjoy being noisy and talking amongst themselves, they’re surprisingly attentive. I became more familiar with the characters of different children and learned how they needed to be treated differently,” said Dela. Most importantly, Dela feels accomplished now that she can contribute
to the wellbeing of others in her place of work. “Before, I was also active as a program executive and mentor in a photo gallery. The roles were more or less the same. Well, when I was asked to teach a photography class in YCAB it felt great because I could share my knowledge with others, not just in YCAB” she added.
There probably aren’t a lot of people who are so willing and brave to take an opportunity like this. For that reason, Della’s students are truly lucky to receive a teacher who’s so generous in regards to sharing knowledge. Like mutualism, the spirit that Della transmits to her students is a spirit that will undoubtedly continue to fuel her life as well. Hopefully the world sees more Dela’s to come in the future.