Photo department to lose mentor

It all started in 1972, when the man with the hat and mustache, Larry Jones, took a part-time job at Santa Monica College, teaching in the photo program he had graduated from nine years earlier.

At the end of this semester, his run of 41 years as an SMC photography professor will come to an end.

"Of course he will be missed," says Ford Lowcock, chair of the photo department at SMC. "But we have great employees, ready to take this program further."

Jones shares Lowcock's view.

"The other teachers are younger, so they don't have the same nostalgia as I do," Jones says. "I think that will be good for the program. They will be able to take it to the next step."

Jones' reasoning behind staying at the college for over four decades is simple.

"I love when a student gets it, when they understand what I am teaching," Jones says. "That is the only reason I've been teaching."

However, while some students "get it," others do not. Jones considers not being able to reach every student and help them realize their full potential as his only failure as a teacher.

"It is frustrating sometimes, and I wish I had had more time," he says.

Photo student Niklas Marklund had Jones as a professor in two photography classes, and describes him as "loud and sarcastic."

"[Jones is] sometimes on the edge of being mean, but always in a funny way," Marklund says. "He tells a lot of stories about his life, and you just never get tired of listening."

"When I first met him, I though he was kind of gruff," says Lowcock. "But once you get to know him, he really is a great guy."

Jones describes himself as an odd character, and not one for following rules or patterns.

"I like the fact that I'm different," he says. "That's why I'm left-handed."

There is no doubt Jones has had a great impact on his students and will be missed.

"He is very helpful and really cares about his students," Marklund says. "His door is always open."

Apart from the fact that he will not be teaching anymore, not much is going to change in Jones' life once he retires.

"People always ask me, 'so what are you going to do now?'" he says. "Continue shooting, of course."

He plans on building a house, spending more time in nature and traveling. Even though he made a promise of never going back because of trauma, one of the destinations he'd like to travel to is Vietnam, where he served as an aerial infrared photographer in the Navy.

Jones has never had an alternative career other than photography.

"I have never done anything else, and I have never wanted to," he says. "I have loved every second of being a photographer."

CultureNiklas ThimComment