ASHLAND It seems as though Larry Rees was born to be a photographer.
The Huntington native has been chief photographer at a newspaper and he’s shot weddings. He also has taught photography at the Huntington Museum of Art for the last 10 years; classes are currently suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While attending Marshall University, Rees worked at a photography lab and developed an interest. There was no photography degree offered at Marshall and he wasn’t able to cobble together the hours at Marshall for a degree even though at 125 credits he had enough.
“I petitioned the state and got a teacher’s certificate to teach photography,” he said, noting he took a written test and submitted it, along with other experiences, and got the certificate. He began teaching at the Cabell-Wayne Vocational and Technical School before moving to the art department at Marshall. Rees, 72, also taught at Ohio University and Marshall’s community college before teaching at the museum.
“All the classes are digital, except once a year I get to do a darkroom class,” he said. “With traditional film, you really use your brains. If you can learn dark room, digital is a walk in the park.”
His classes are small — no more than 10 — and he teaches the basics.
“I try to get them into situations they’re going to have to deal with in life,” he said, adding he’s had students in tethered balloons, chartered airplanes and a fire department’s bucket truck.
“I don’t want a camera engineer to decide how a pic should be,” he said. “I wanted you thinking through this so you will have it how you want it to be.”
Rees said on the first night of classes, he throws a lot of technical stuff at students with the promise that, at the end of the class, they will understand everything he said.
“At the end of six weeks, and I give them a series of commands and I don’t have anybody asking, ‘Hey, what do I do?’” he said. “Keep it dirt simple to begin with.”
Freedom is his favorite aspect of photography.
“I like the creative end of it, where I could take something normal and it to where I wanted it,” he said, adding old architecture and houses are some of his favorite subjects, although his granddaughters have taken the places of structures lately.
One aspect of photography he’s not glad to see: digital archiving.
“A whole generation’s pictures are going to be lost,” he said, noting photos are on phones and stored in a variety of technology that might become irretrievable as technology advances and changes.
For more information about classes at the Huntington Museum of Art, call (304) 529-2701.
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