History of the SMC Photography Department
The Photography Department at Santa Monica College (SMC/TPD) was started in 1947. We are a 2-year public institution located in
Santa Monica, California. We have an average enrollment of 1,200 students every fall and spring semester. Our facilities consist of 10
shooting bays, a 30-enlarger black & white lab, a 22-enlarger color lab, a 36-workstation Macintosh computer lab with a service bureau
that has two Imacon 343 film scanners and one Flextight X5 film scanner, Epson and Canon inkjet printers up to 44" wide. In our studios for advanced students we have 10 Leaf medium format capture backs, 2 Better Light and 2 PhotoPhase 4x5 scan backs and Canon 35mm
DSLR cameras. We also maintain a year-round Photography Gallery.
We teach courses ranging from basics through advanced techniques, encompassing a wide range of camera formats (35mm, medium format, view camera, video), lighting (studio and location), wet darkroom (black-and-white and color), business practices and portfolio development courses. We position our students to move into the photo industry or transfer to 4-year institutions to further their studies. The majority of our students move directly into industry.
SMC/TPD has been extremely fortunate in that we receive support from many different industry professionals, organizations and vendors.
For example, Bobbi Lane, APA National Educational Director, has listed SMC Photo among APA's 12 top photo programs in the nation to whom program support is offered by that organization. We have hosted the APA’s Emerging Photographer’s Business Seminar twice now inviting an additional 10 other programs in the LA area. The Getty Museum has supported specialized courses and resulting exhibitions by
the Photo Department, and Sony, Photo District News and others have put on very successful programs here in recent years.
During the summer of 2005, we joined with Freestyle Photographic Supply and Glendale College to host an all-day printing seminar with
Tim Rudman on his techniques for Lith printing. Both of these examples highlight another important issue, we feel that sharing resources
likes these with other institutions is a wonderful method of building community and a stronger educational base for all photography students.
SMC Photography Department Timeline
1946 – 1953: Began instruction at the Virginia Street Campus using the auditorium stage as a studio. There was only one photography instructor to teach everything. Most of our students were returning World War II veterans. Enrollment was approximately 40 students each semester.
1954: Moved to current location of main campus located at 1900 Pico Boulevard. The photography department was housed in the basement of the Science building. Became a 2-instructor program.
1954 – 1994: Photography department remained in the basement of the science building until we were forced out by the total destruction of the building in the 1994 Northridge earthquake. At one point we had expanded to 4 full-time, 13 adjunct instructors. During this time period we experienced an enrollment high of 1800 students.
1994: In less than 6 weeks temporary studios and labs were built on the first and second floors of the technology building.
1996: Completion of our existing studios on the first floor of the technology building (Drescher Hall). Over the course of the next three years the black-and-white lab and color lab were also completed.
1999: The Macintosh computer lab was added, enabling us to move into digital imaging with full instructional workstation and service bureau capabilities, including film and reflective art scanners, Epson and Fujix printers, and direct digital capture.
2008: Acquired sufficient number of Leaf digital backs to furnish all studios used by advanced courses.
2010: Added digital video production to the curriculum.
Presently, we have 4 full-time professors, 22 adjunct instructors, 3 studio/lab technicians and a student population of approximately 1200. We operate classes and labs Monday through Saturday.
A List Of Recent Presenters At SMC:
Joe Buissink: Celebrity wedding photographer
Robert Farber: Advertising & fine art photographer (sponsored by Canon)
Daniel Milnor: Wedding and documentary photographer (sponsored by Kodak)
Bob Stevens: Photographer – car and fashion
Greg Gaglio: Director of Artist Relations/Creative Development, WorkbookStock
David Strick: Editorial and documentary photographer
Everard Williams: Advertising photographer & Art Center College of Design faculty
Roxann Arwen Mills: Advertising and fine arts photographer
Brie Childers: Fashion photographer
Mona Kuhn: Fine arts photographer (Steidl Publishers/Fahey, Klein Gallery)
Lee Salem: Public relations/celebrity photographer
Jerry Avenon: Celebrity portraitist (sponsored by Mamiya America Corp)
Richard Radstone: Advertising photographer, APA board member
Bill Varie: Commercial photographer & digital retoucher
Will Crockett: (sponsored by Fuji Film)
Michael Kochman: Photo Editor, Entertainment Weekly
Andrew Delaney: Deputy Director of Photography, Getty Images
Jigisha Bouverat, Director of Art Buingr, TBWA\Chiat\Day.
Physicist/photographer/author Dr. Tim Rudman
(lith printing workshop sponsored jointly by Santa Monica and Glendale Colleges and Freestyle Photographic Supplies)
Norma Smith (platinum printing demo sponsored by Freestyle Photographic Supplies)
Stock Artists Alliance
Samy’s Camera (digital capture demo)
Leaf Digital/Mamiya America (digital capture demo)
As Santa Monica College is a public school, The Photography Department tends to be overshadowed by more expensive schools like Brooks Institute of Photography and Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. But our two-year program is highly regarded by those in the know. We have an articulation agreement with Brooks that allows our graduates who are seeking a more advanced degree to enter its program at the junior level, thus saving our graduates some $40,000 in tuition fees and related expenses, and the work ethic of SMC/TPD students makes them perennial favorites at Art Center.
Aside from basic 35mm cameras, virtually all equipment necessary for success in the program is provided by the Photography Department for use in our facilities, another significant savings over most private schools. As digital imaging instruction now extends across all levels of the program, from our very basic Photo 1 through the last, most advanced classes, we are continually adding to the number of printers, scanners, DSLR camera bodies, video cameras and lenses available for student use.
We have been very fortunate in building industry partnerships throughout the years. At various milestones in our growth we have received help from Mamiya America Corp., Canon, Hasselblad/Imacon, Norman, Dynalite, Speedatron, Samy’s Camera, Freestyle Photographic Supply, Bel Air Camera, Calumet Photographics, A&I Photo Lab, The Icon, Photoworkshop.com, Dennis Hopper (actor/photographer), California Sunbounce (Bron Imaging), Nash Editions, and Adobe Systems. We have also recently developed an on-going internship program with APA, where each semester we pair students with APA professional photographers on a “work study” situation, and through our business practices class students receive additional membership benefits from ASMP.