Naked Teacher Gets Fired

Henry’s Cameras which runs Henry’s School of Imaging finally gave chief instructor Michael Willems the boot.

Shocking. Henry’s should have fired Willems years ago around the same time they fired me (full disclosure) and a bunch of other older experienced photographers.

According to Willems, whose veracity usually can be trusted in these matters, the camera retailer allegedly received a complaint from a student about a photo she saw on Willems’s professional site (which has no connection with Henry’s) which she found objectionable.

Now Henry’s School of Imaging runs a half a dozen classes a week in their dingy back of the store staff kitchen areas. After moving out the garbage can and setting up the chairs there’s room for anywhere from 16 to 30 students.

My experience suggests we could say 10 students times six locations times four classes per location per week and we get roughly 200 to 250 students getting lessons. So Michael, who was Henry’s top teacher IMHO, would teach roughly a 1,000 students per year plus another 2,000 or so at the big Henry’s shows (one just finished at the International Centre) for a total of 3,000 students annually through the School of Imaging.

And one of those students allegedly took offensive to something she saw on another site. (I’m so tempted to post a photo of my naked butt but I’ll spare you.) Spare me.

Now it’s my opinion that Henry’s management who run the school of imaging has never been the sharpest tools in the shed. I got into several disputes with them over money (They paid a set rate for travel which was fine if you were teaching at a store near you but as one of the more popular teachers (if I do say so myself) I was being asked to travel to Oshawa and other out of town stores without any additional compensation. Teachers were paid $40 an hour or $120 for a standard three-hour course which is pretty good money but loses it’s attraction when travel of three hours round trip plus a half hour to setup and take down are factored in. In my experience Henry’s management was always misery when it came to paying staff.

Worse was when Henry’s finally started to hold teacher meetings they were met with a lot of uncomfortable comments about the quality or lack thereof the slide shows which were created by a graphic artist with little, if any, professional history as a photographer and no experience whatsoever as a teacher.

So it you take a course at Henry’s now you get one of the sale kids who reads the slides from their slide shows, get paid some extra bonus money and gets tot pitch products at you.

Anyway let’s get back to Willems, who for his sins introduced me to Henry’s School of Imaging some years ago. He and I created and taught our own courses at the same time we were working part-time for Henry’s. In my best year working for the store I might have made $25K and had almost all of my weekends eaten up teaching. We did our own advanced courses for emerging pros teaching them advanced flash techniques and other topics not fully covered by the Henry’s basic photography courses.

Henry’s management always had a problem with their senior instructors offering courses elsewhere despite the fact that most of them did so. We just didn’t promote our courses when we were teaching at Henry’s. Fair is fair and that wouldn’t be right.

It’s ironic that Henry’s fires Willems based on a complaint from one student who objected to some nudity on the day that Virgin CEO Richard Branson has invited B.C. Premier Christy Clark to kite surf naked!

Oh the horror – the horror.

Willems is way better off separated from the ninnies that run Henry’s School of Imaging.

BTW, I still highly recommend Henry’s Cameras as a place to buy your photography equipment. Generally, the sales staff are friendly (go to Vistek and see if you even get greeted. I never have. Walked around the Mississauga store for 15 minutes one day as a test. No one even said Hi.) and knowledgeable. Yes you can sometimes find a better price elsewhere but it’s cheaper for me to drive to my local store than drive to a downtown Toronto store to save $20.

Henry’s Cameras would be much better off it either they killed off the School of Imaging or ran it in a professional manner that benefitted the students, the teachers and the company.

If you want first-class personal or small class instruction on basic, advanced or professional instruction in photography may I humbly recommend myself 🙂 or Michael Willems.

BTW go visit Michaels Speedlighter site.

Also here’s a link to Michael’s offensive gallery shot at a nudist camp where he’s holding an exhibit of his photography. Warning folks! There are nude photos here! Sixty-two pages of them. I wonder if our student at Henry’s went through every page?

The nudes are part of an exhibition (We can use this word a couple of ways here.) of photographs shot at the nudist camp which are on display at the Bare Oaks Naturist Resort. (Why didn’t I think of this? My first mother-in-law was a nudist. Saw a lot more of my mother-in-law than most sons-in-law.)

Come to “Never Not Naked – Natural Nudes”: An Art Exhibit by Michael Willems Photographer. At Bare Oaks Naturist Resort, Ontario, 22 June-8 July 2012. Where this shot was taken. This will be a unique exhibit: to see the art nudes, while you are naked yourself!


5 thoughts on “Naked Teacher Gets Fired

  1. Pingback: From Prudes to Nudes? |

  2. I had some issues with Henry’s years back when I was buying my studio equipment. I was upset enough that I found everything I needed and then went and bought it elsewhere. At the time it was several thousand dollars worth of equipment.
    It is a shame that quality instructors are appreciated more by them. You are both better off without them.

  3. Michelle, they had no idea what they had – world class $2,000 a day presenters that they paid a mere fraction of that, and that they treated like low-end employees – and worse, that they did not seem to in any way appreciate. Small minds: I truly love the people I worked with, and I wish the SOI well, but it does seem to me that I am better off without them.

    • ..and as said here and on my blog, I strongly recommend Henry’s the retail store as well. Especially the Oakville and Mississauga stores offer great value, expert assistance and really, really nice people. I’ll miss them!

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