One of the big things in play for much of the work i do / activities I involve myself in work around not only personal benefit (in and outside of photo but also giving back. I'm a firm believer in the concept of karma, both good and bad.

At the beginning of my second year at RIT, a professor approached me about TA-ing (teaching assistant) a freshman course I had completed in the photo department. Specifically, Materials and Processes of Photography. The courses is intended to prepare students for the basic technical aspects of what they may encounter in their career at RIT, as everyone enters with different levels of experience. As a TA, you assist with lab instruction and grade student submissions, providing feedback along the way. 

An in-class demo of 4x5 view cameras. Photo by Sammy Castillo

An in-class demo of 4x5 view cameras. Photo by Sammy Castillo

This position sparked something in me that led to additional TA positions, and a realization that I love giving back to other artists.

The idea of enabling other photographers with the skills, knowledge, and know-how to go out and make amazing images is something that excites me every time I'm in the studio or classroom.

I love both the challenges and positive results of helping someone develop not only their skills but also mindset.  These are the same skills I was fortunate enough to receive, and what built the competent, heck sometimes even qualified, assistant and photographer that I am today.

Because of that, I see it as a responsibility to pass it forward. Firmly, I believe that the quality of one’s work or art shouldn’t be limited because they haven’t been taught something. If there is genuine will, and desire, there is very little reason to instruct.

While I had never planned to include teaching in my long-term career plans, it's something that's now sitting in the back of my mind, something a bit ironic as both my siblings and parents are educators, albeit in different fields of study.

No matter how you do it, giving back is important. Whether it’s passing along knowledge, helping others out, or just offering constructive feedback when asked. Photo karma will play out, and I’ve already seen some of its doing in my life already.