WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Dennis Shirley has enjoyed photography since he started taking pictures as a teenager. Now he wants to share his skills and passion for photography with others by teaching classes.
Shirley started offering photography classes at Open Studios in November.
"I love photography and I like to share what I know about it and find other people that like it and love it and want to learn about it," he said.
Shirley teaches two different classes. Students can attend one or both of the classes. The first is an introductory class that teaches the basics of manual mechanical cameras, including film, f-stops and shutter speeds.
"Most of the students have digital cameras but I feel like doing that first basic class is important to give them a foundation of how things used to be done and that way it will give them a better understanding of the features and functions of a camera," Shirley said.
The second class focuses on digital cameras. Shirley works one-on-one with students to help them understand the features of their cameras.
Shirley got the idea for the classes from his friend Andrea Dunn at the library. When Dunn got a new digital camera a few years ago, she asked Shirley to teach her how to use it. At Dunn's suggestion, Shirley taught a few classes at the library. Now Shirley hopes to start offering the classes at Open Studios on a regular basis.
Shirley first became interested in photography from his father, who was an amateur photographer. As a teenager, Shirley started taking pictures using an instamatic camera, then a Polaroid, then a 35 mm film camera.
"The first time I ever developed my first roll of film and I saw that image come up I was just in love with the art," Shirley said.
In high school Shirley got a job photographing high school football games for his local newspaper in Fort Payne, Ala.
"That's kind of how I got my professional start and I've been doing freelance photography ever since," he said.
Shirley worked for several years in Los Angeles photographing people in the music industry. He has worked with several musicians, including Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, Gladys Knight and Willie Nelson.
Shirley's favorite subjects to photograph are people.
"Most of what I've done throughout my career are black and white character studies. I shot black and white film exclusively for 30 years. I went kicking and screaming into the digital age," he said.
Shirley added that he still owns some film cameras.
"I'll still shoot film until they stop selling it," he said.
Shirley's next class is the digital class on Friday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Open Studios, 106 S. Ninth St. There is a fee.
More information is available from Helen Gorney at (928) 635-4387.