Digital Photography Instructor Neil Eschenfelder talks to us about an upcoming photo journey he’s leading to Jordan & Palestine – be sure to read through to the end where Neil tells you how you can join him!
Lifelong Learning: Neil, this sounds like an amazing trip… how did you get involved?
Neil Eschenfelder: I decided to do this trip for a couple of reasons, but mainly because I like teaching photography. The potential for reaching people who may not have had any
prior training but have desire to learn photography adds to my feeling of accomplishment. When I get student photos in my e-mail or on Facebook it makes me extremely happy. I love watching students, whether here in Salt Lake City through Pixels Foto, at The U with Lifelong Learning or abroad, make progress in their photographic endeavors. Photography truly is the universal language and I like spreading the word as far and wide as I can.
Several of our regular customers (at Pixels Foto) brought back images from Jordan, many showing Petra’s famed Treasury. I couldn’t help hearing Indiana Jones music every time I looked at their photos. Each of them traveled under our guide, Jim Gee’s care and direction. When Jim came to the store to print some of his photos I asked if I could have him direct a trip for us here at Pixels. He readily agreed adding he regularly takes clients into Petra’s back country showing them exclusive areas he worked during his 20 years of professional archaeology work. He said he could also help spread word of a free photo class among locals, providing instruction to which they might not have access otherwise.
In addition to making contact through Jim and his network, I found a great relationship building resource at Westminster College’s Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy. Members for 7 years, my wife and I have hosted numerous groups from the US State Department’s International Visiting Leadership Program presented through UCCD’s Home Hosting program. UCCD offers members the opportunity to bring visitors from around the world into their homes, sharing a meal, conducting, “Diplomacy, one handshake at a time.” Its a wonderful program for building relationships and, in my case, contacts through which I can open up teaching opportunities. We had, among others, Jordanian and Palestinian visitors at our house in September of 2016 where I proposed my class. Both visitors enthusiastically agreed. We regularly communicate through e-mail as we organize our tour as well as photo instruction in Amman, Jordan and Jericho, Palestine. I invite any of our photo tour guests to sit in on my classes. Who knows? Maybe we’ll all come back home with some new photo friends.
I feel we as Americans have our news hand fed to us. Even though news outlets may feel themselves unbiased, seeking out one’s own contacts helps even out story slants. I’ve never been to Jordan or Palestine though my 2014 Morocco trip helped open my eyes to Muslim culture. Tempered somewhat by Morocco’s colonial past, I feel there’s more to the Mid East than we experienced there. In addition, the history and cultural events of Jordan and Palestine help to form the backbone of our Judaeo Christian heritage – it’ll be great to see the birthplace of so many of the building blocks of western culture.
LL: That sounds like an incredible opportunity. Where would someone find out more information about joining you on this trip?
NE: Anyone who is interested should call Pixels Foto & Frame (801-233-9090) to register for our 7:00 PM February 28th pre trip meeting. Jim and I will both be present to answer your questions. And for even more details, including a day-0by-day itinerary check this link: http://www.pixelsfoto.com/blog/?p=3246&preview=true
LL: Finally Neil, we noticed on your business card that your the Dean of P.U. We know you’ve been teaching for Lifelong Learning for almost 20 years, but what the heck is a Dean of P.U.?
NE: PU on my business card stands for Pixels University. Customers purchasing cameras from us get one on one instruction on their cameras for an hour, usually with me the As Pixels, Foto & Frame’s education director. This is a lot of fun because it helps me learn about my industry’s incredible technology offerings. I can then make sure our customers understand how that technology works for them to make their photography even better. I started here 12 years ago and have been Dean of PU ever since.
LL: Thanks Neil, and we’ll expect you to check back in with us to share stories and images from your adventures!