Robert Hirsch

Robert Hirsch

Member, Freestyle Advisory Board of Photographic Professionals


Robert Hirsch is author of Exploring Color Photography: From Film to Pixels; Light and Lens: Photography in the Digital Age; Photographic Possibilities: The Expressive Use of Equipment, Ideas, Materials, and Processes; and Seizing the Light: A Social History of Photography. Hirsch has published scores of articles about visual culture and interviewed eminent photographers of our time. He has had many one-person shows and curated numerous exhibitions. The former executive director of CEPA Gallery, he now heads Light Research.

Ask The Experts

Dear Tamala, I know of no magic bullet for getting students excited about any course except teacher enthusiasm and knowledge of the subject. If you are jazzed about what you are doing then it increases the likelihood that some of the students will follow your lead. Teach what interests you about the history of photography, find ways to link it to what was happening in the world, and stay away from rote academic exercises. Go to: and click on the Education link to see one approach I used online. Best

Dear Louis, UV filter - definitely, Polarizer - yes, ND - depends. Tell me why you think you need one. ND filters are used to reduce the overall intensity of the light. They are available in different densities - ND 2, 4, and 8. Typically they are used when the light is too intense for the ISO of your film when you want to use a slower shutter speed and/or a larger lens aperture. It can be very useful for reducing depth of field. For a good introductory overview of filters see: Exploring Color Photography: From the Darkroom to the Digital Studio Chapter 4 - Filtering the Light

Dear Jayne, You have my deepest sympathy. In a perfect world what would be important is an individual's knowledge, their ability to communicate it and to get students excited about the history of photography. Unfortunately you are caught up in a old running academic turf feud over credentials. When I was writing Seizing the Light I applied to the Getty for a grant to assist in the research. I was turned down with the reply of "We do NOT fund MFAs." Since its publication I have been criticized as not being qualified to have undertaken such a project. Being a maker has given me unique insights into how and why other photographers make their images the way they do and why some have influenced the entire field. This is extremely valuable for students taking studio classes in photography at all levels. PhDs don't usually have this depth of experience. Ultimately it depends on the goals of your program. Does your program want to turn out informed makers or writers who can be critics and theorists? You might try contacting the Executive Director of SPE to see if they have gathered any information on this topic and if not, suggest that they undertake such a study. Let me know how it goes. Glad to hear that you are finding the latest edition of Exploring Color Photography valuable in your classroom. Best with all,