Learning By Teaching
My buddy, Jake and I launched a new wedding film company Lady Bird Wedding Films last year focused on training up young, aspiring film-makers to create beautiful wedding films.
A couple of weeks ago we spent the day training up a group of these young film-makers who had just graduated from the University of Texas Film School. Its an amazing school (Consistently ranked top 10 in the country), but not everything they learn always translates into being a good "DP" (Director of Photography. read "cameraman"). So we have to do a good amount of training to get them up to speed with our style and techniques.
You've heard it said and sung (Thank you Phil Collins) that the best way to truly learn something is to teach it to others.
This is true for so many reasons. Heres a few of them...
1) Teaching makes you stop and reflect on what you are doing.
As with any task you've done a lot, you often can find yourself in a place of just doing what you've always done because you've always done it. But when a student asks the ancient, preverbal question, "why?" it makes you stop and reflect on why you are doing it that way.
For example, I was showing them about finding unique angles to shoot from for B-roll. One of the students asked, why... Because it looks cool duh! (jk I didn't say that). On brief reflection I realized its because no one ever sees things from this perspective. We see the world at eye level. So if I go shoot a slider shot from the ground pointing up at a tree, it looks way more interesting. I've never really thought of it in those terms before.
2) Students ask questions you may have to dig for a bit... and then you learn something new.
While teaching this seminar I had a student ask a question about how to change something on the Lumix G7 cameras that we use our wedding films. I know the Lumix GH4 camera like the back of my hand, but personally only use the G7 sporadically. So I had to do a little digging and ended up learning a new cool feature of the camera I didn't know was there.
3) Teaching forces you to refocus on the fundamentals.
When you get really good at any task its easy to move on to bigger and better things. But the truth is a solid focus on the fundamentals is what really makes anyone great at what they do. As much as I hate to admit it, its what makes the San Antonio Spurs one of the most amazing sports franchises in the history of sports. Their coach drills the fundamentals into them without ceasing. Even for 15 time all-star Tim Duncan (whom I loathe), his consistent focus on the fundamentals is what made him the greatest power forward ever (besides of Dirk Nowitzki of course).
No matter how long you work on any task there is always room to grow. So teach someone what you know, and you'll get better yourself.