Two questions for the peanut gallery …

… Would love any/all thoughts:

1. I teach an intro to journalism class at Manhattanville College. One of my students is a wonderful young woman who desperately wants to get into photo-journalism. She showed me her portfolio the other day, and it’s great. Beyond great. That said, she lacks experience/any sort of resume material related to the field.

With a new book coming out in September, I was going to have my nephew take my picture for the back of the book jacket. He’s only 10, but a wicked-cool kid, and it would have been fun for him. Then, after my class ended, I thought about this woman, and how much it’d mean to her to be able to slap it on the resume. So I asked if she’d like to, and she was extremely happy.

Got home, told my wife, she thought it might cross a teacher-student line—using the services of a student. I disagreed strongly, because I’m doing it to help her. Period.

Who’s right?

2. My friend Laura recently took a vacation. She’s a big reality TV fan, and as she and her husband were eating dinner, they were shocked/excited to find their waiter was a cast member from a Real World season from eight or nine years ago.

Question: Do you ask him about having been on the Real World—or would it embarrass the guy?

Personally, I wouldn’t ask. Not that anything’s wrong with waiting tables, but who knows how he would feel about being recognized doing the work.


11 thoughts on “Two questions for the peanut gallery …”

  1. If the class is ended, then she’s no longer one of your students. She’s simply doing ‘tfp’ (time for print) work–very common with models and photographers trying to build a portfolio.

    If she was doing it to get an A, then you’ve crossed a line. Otherwise, I think you’re in the clear.

  2. Stephen in NW Ohio

    There is no problem with the first scenario. You are fostering this student’s talents by giving her the opportunity to work on a professional level. Obviously, if you had made the offer quid pro quo, that would be different. Keeping it strictly professional crosses no line–in the field of music, professors occasionally hire their own students to perform at weddings and other special events. By giving your student a forum in which to create her work and to have that work published is part of preparing your student for her chosen occupation, and that is what teaching is all about.

    As for THE REAL WORLD situation, I probably wouldn’t bring it up, but in my opinion it isn’t gauche to do so.

  3. I agree with Shan, wait until after the class is over.
    There is a conflict of interest concerning grades.
    Besides if she understands the art of camera angle, lighting etc. she can minimize your faults and convey who you are.
    Not to criticize a 10 year old, but pictures emphasizing your chin and nose hairs usually aren’t the best.
    Of course he could be a tall 10 year old.

  4. As for your first scenario, I agree with Shan – this is a ‘tfp’, and will help build her portfolio. I had a few of my shots published in a pretty well-received book on the Mets which was done as a tfp, and I was thrilled to do it.

    Regarding the 2nd scenario, I agree with your take – it really isn’t the place to bring up it up.

  5. Agreed with much of what has been said – if you’re worried about it, just wait til the class is over and have her take the pic. But even if you don’t, I don’t think it crosses a line unless she expects an A as a result.

  6. I think you’ve got #1 down by now, so for #2, I would say a polite inquiry, “Hey, were you on Real World?” and leave it at that would be fine, but not freak out about it, but leave it at that, don’t freak out and/or start asking questions about the season, other cast members, etc. Just acknowledge it and move on.

  7. 1. Having your student take your book photo violates NCAA rules. Other than that, don’t see a problem.

    2. One must never admit to watching the Real World in public if over 30, especially to a former cast member. Too embarrassing in so many ways

  8. 1. If you pay her for her services, I see no issue. You would pay a professional to take a head shot like that.

    2. Never seen the Real World. From what I understand, everyone who has ever appeared on it deserves to be waiting tables.

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