I was saddened to learn yesterday of the recent death of my high school photography teacher, Mike Weesner. Mr. Weesner had a great talent for explaining how the mechanics of a camera, lens – and, in those days, film and an enlarger – all worked together to create magic. More than that, he had a gift for encouraging people. Many a time, I would come out of the darkroom with a contact sheet or print and say something along the lines of, “I really don’t have anything here.” Mr. Weesner would inevitably look, think, and then offer a suggestion for cropping, dodging and burning, or some other improvement. Taking those suggestions to heart, I’d go back into the darkroom and emerge with something where I thought there had been nothing.
I remember how the front of the classroom had a spot for Photo of the Week, a student’s photo selected by Mike Weesner which best captured that week’s assignment. To this day, I will sometimes look at photo I’ve taken and ask myself if it’s good enough to have a chance at making Photo of the Week.
I still value photography as a creative outlet and I value the training and encouragement I received from Mike Weesner.