In addition to lecture rooms, the Photography Department’s physical plant consists of 10 shooting bays or studios for use by intermediate and advanced level students; black-and-white and color printing labs; black-and-white, E-6 and C-41 processing labs; and a digital lab with complete service bureau, all built since 1994. Intermediate level students (Photo 3, 3A-3B, 4, and 29) enjoy the use of 1440 square feet of studio space, divided into six 240 sq.’ bays. Equipment supporting these studio bays includes Mamiya 645 & RZ-67 and Hasselblad medium format cameras, fully accessorized with Dynalite strobe systems, and Toyo G2 4x5 cameras. Advanced students have access to nearly 1800 square feet of shooting space: two studios of 285 sq.’ each, one 600 sq.’ space with cove and return, and another 600 sq.’ studio, this with a cyclorama and return. A working kitchen, dressing and makeup room, and equipment storage rooms complete this area. Equipment available here includes fully accessorized Norman, ProFoto and Dynalite strobe systems, Hasselblad, Mamiya 645 & RZ and Toyo G2 cameras, Arri and Starlight continuous light sources, Phase One, Better Light and Leaf digital capture backs with Macintosh tethering capabilities and Canon 35mm digital cameras. The digital imaging lab consists of 28 instructional Macintosh computers, with 10 additional Mac’s supporting a tabloid flatbed scanner and multiple Hasselblad/Imacon film scanners handling all formats up to 4x5” in a service bureau with Epson and Canon inkjet printers capable of handling papers up to 44" wide.
SMC Photo is currently the only school in the United States owning three De Vere 504DS digital enlargers. These enlargers marry digital and wet photography. They allow a digital file to be projected through the enlarger in much the same way as film is projected through a conventional enlarger onto any type of photographic printing paper for processing in standard photographic chemistry. We incorporate these digital enlargers into our Alternatives class by producing enlarged 8x10 black & white negatives suitable for platinum/paladium, Van Dyke and Cyanotype printing processes. They are used widely by advanced students for portfolio production. Beautiful black & white fiber based prints are produced for a variety of classes. On the De Vere enlargers students can produce Type-C and Ilfochrome prints as well.
Conventional photographic processes are supported by six black-and-white film processing rooms, a community darkroom of thirty Omega D5-XL black-and-white enlargers with a full compliment of Rodenstock lenses for 35mm, medium format and 4x5 films arrayed around a 200 square foot stainless steel sink. Twenty-two individual color printing rooms contain Chromega D5-XL enlargers, again with Rodenstock lenses for all formats up to 4x5”. Type C prints are machine-processed here, and our Ilfochrome processing is completed in a Fujimoto CP-51 dry-to-dry processor. The Photography Department also maintains a 900 sq.’ exhibition gallery with shows running year-round. These feature the work of SMC mentor students, faculty, alumni, and other photographers in the Los Angeles area. The gallery is also occasional host to nationally traveling photo exhibits.
The program enjoys considerable support from the professional working and professional retail photographic community in Los Angeles, as well as direct support from a number of manufacturers of high-end camera, lighting and digital equipment, from which the students benefit enormously and for which we are extremely grateful. The ongoing and enthusiastic support of all of these individuals and organizations has enabled us to present, with confidence, a program that is in all respects state of the art. The typical student population of SMC’s Photo Program is a marvelous mix of ages, international origins and background experiences. The number of students in the program hovers around 1200, not counting the many SMC Community Service classes taught by our instructors outside the program.
Class sizes permit extensive student-instructor contact. Many students also take advantage of design classes taught cooperatively by other departments, including new media, web-design and development, and 3-D animation courses taught in the acclaimed Academy of Entertainment Technology program. Instructors are either working professionals or former commercial and editorial photographers with an average of more than fifteen years in their fields prior to joining the faculty. Many have been the recipients of prestigious awards and grants and have worked for major U. S. and international clients. The academic backgrounds of our instructors are equally impressive.
The college provides assistance in the form of multi-media and computer-assisted learning aids to facilitate lecture presentations. Major cultural entities like the Getty Museum support the program by hosting private viewings of their photographic archives and encouraging and facilitating field trips to view their collections and use their grounds for field assignments. The city of Santa Monica provides cooperative access to many of its diverse public areas, again for field assignments. Photography classes are conveniently available six days and nights each week, year-round at several satellite campuses and area high schools as well as on the main SMC campus. Labs and studios are open for use approximately fourteen hours per day.
SMC photo students who have gone through the program in recent years have met with considerable success. Several have gone on to further photographic studies at acclaimed institutions around the country, three are staff photographers for the Los Angeles Times, several have moved to New York and are working for nationally-acclaimed photographers, including Joyce Tennyson and Sheila Metzner, many have established their own studios here and—in the case of international students—in their own countries, and several who have completed the new digital program are shooting or working as digital artists for a variety of dot-com retailers and as stock agency photo editors.