Meet the Chair

The Photography Program is embedded in a contemporary, vibrant and historically significant photo community in the Bay Area.

The program has strong relationships with local museums, galleries, publishers, studios, and artists, as evidenced through our lecture series, visiting artist program, and internship offerings.

We take a broad-based approach to photographic education, engaging students in the most contemporary practices as well as in the traditions and historical structures from which those practices have evolved. 

Our curriculum provides a strong technical foundation that covers both analog and digital practices and simultaneously focuses on the critical and theoretical skill building necessary to pursue a career as an exhibiting artist and to work in photography-related professions.

 

Background

I studied photography directly with Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, and Wynn Bullock.  All of these became friends and mentors to my early development as a photo artist and I attempt to carry the spirit of their influence into my creative life and pedagogy.  I am the author of The Practical Zone System currently in its sixth edition.

In 1993 I collaborated with Suzanne Lacy on a large scale performance work titled “The Roof is on Fire” that addressed the alienation of inner city youths.  In 1996 in created the video project Question Bridge and in 2012 I collaborated with Hank Willis Thomas to create Question Bridge: Black Males that has been acquired by the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture.

I am a Full Professor of Photography at CCA and I have served as Director of the Mother Jones International Fund for Documentary Photography, Chair of the City of Oakland Cultural Affairs Commission, President of the Board of SF Camerawork Gallery and I am currently serving on the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Media Arts and Culture.

Our program has a dedicated pool of faculty who all contribute to the development of the curriculum, facilities, and program community, while maintaining innovative and inspiring creative practices that are based in art exhibition, commercial and journalistic pursuits, academic publishing, and community-involved, project-based works.

Visit the Photography faculty profiles to learn more about each of them.

 

Fine Arts & Photography Curriculum 

The program boasts a dynamic fine art–based curriculum. We are committed to introducing and building both digital and analog technical skills from the beginning of the curriculum, while simultaneously incorporating media history, critical engagement, and the development of personal vision.

Our program believes in the value of an art education. To learn history through its aesthetic movements and cultural discourses and to learn a language that is visualized rather than spoken are skills that resonate well beyond a profession in the arts.

These skills give one the capacity to be socially aware, become an independent creative thinker, and develop the foundation for an innovative career and successful leadership.

Critical engagement is embedded in the medium of photography due to its cultural impact in the commercial, media, and domestic spheres.

Photography is the site of discourse around some of our culture’s major modern inquiries into representation, identity, and social awareness; this makes for a lively curriculum -- one that is committed to dialogue, debate, and the examination of meaning.

 

Our Facilities

We maintain an analog black-and-white lab and have state of the art digital facilities as well as continuously evolving facilities and equipment that are available to all students enrolled in our courses.

We are committed to following the industry standards for photographic media, while simultaneously considering the creative trajectories of the photo-based artist, which sometimes are at odds with the direction of the commercial production of photography resources.

 

Bay Area Photography & Art

The Bay Area hosts a lively photography community with a long history rooted in academic, exhibition, and independent institutions. Institutions such as SF Camerawork, Photo AllianceSan Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Pier 24 Photography offer extensive and diverse programming that includes exhibitions, lectures, and workshops that the Photography Program faculty regularly incorporates into its courses.

Many local fine arts galleries also exist that show emerging and established fine art photographers.

We tap into all of these resources in building our robust visiting artist Photography Lecture Series, in which we invite approximately six artists each semester.

A variety of internship opportunities exist for our students with industry magazines, newspapers, museums, galleries, and private collections as well as with both commercial and fine art photographers in their studios.

Our program is committed to giving students support, knowledge, and skills while they study at CCA and to continuing those relationships into the future.