SMC showcases alumni photography

From Sept. 28 through Oct. 25, the "4th Bi-Annual Alumni Exhibition" showcases the works of past Santa Monica College photography students, bringing together alumni from different generations. In 2005, Ford Lowcock, SMC's department chair of photography and fashion, started the now traditional “Bi-Annual Alumni Exhibition," displayed at Drescher Hall.

His motivation to start the tradition is to keep in touch with former students and bring everyone back together, Lowcock says.

All former photography students who submitted their work are showcased at the exhibition. Lowcock and other photography professors selected and arranged the pieces "in a way which would be harmonious," says Lowcock.

“Because there is no theme, and we do not know who will be submitting their work, we try to lay it out in a way that one did not pull away from the other one,” he says.


The exhibition this year features commercial works of alumni who graduated either recently or decades ago.

Among those are professional photographers, Anthony Nex, David Zaitz, both graduates from the 1980s, and Ethan Pines, who transferred from SMC in the late '90s.


Anthony Nex, who shot among others for Nickelodeon, Target, Warner Brothers, and BMW, found his passion for photography as a teenager after a skateboarding accident at the age of 15, he says.

As a creative way to stay in touch with his love for skateboarding and his friends, he started to capture their skateboarding with a borrowed camera.

He began to submit his work to a skateboarding magazine, and had his first photos printed after his high school graduation in 1979.

Nex enrolled in all available photography classes at SMC after his parents set the ultimatum that he either had to attend college or pay rent.


He remembers with joy the day he discovered that someone can actually make a living through photography.

“When I found out that I could make a living at something that I loved, that I would have taken another job to support, it was sort of like all the lights came on," he says. "I still remember the moment. It was completely shocking. I can do what I’ve always dreamed of doing."


Pines, who placed first at the International Photography Awards in 2011, discovered photography much later in his life out of pure curiosity when he decided to cease his career as a writer. At that time he did not know anything about photography, but he fell in love with the art form after taking a few classes at SMC. Pines shot for various companies like Sony Music Entertainment, IKEA, Yves Saint Laurent, and editorials like The New York Times and Los Angeles Magazine. Zaitz, whose clients include Esquire Magazine, Sunset Magazine, Metro, Nestlé, Ford, Brooks Sports and Doubletree Hotels, found his passion for photography after his father had given him his old camera and photography books.

For Zaitz, photography is a combination of art and science, which made him stick to the craft after discovering that SMC had a strong photography program.

My love for and interest in photography grew and the photography program gave me the path to pursue it as a career,” he states in an email to The Corsair.

Some of his favorite themes include storytelling with irony and humor, as well as "Americana," the illustration of "our wonderful, wacky nation," he says. As former photography student himself and now accomplished professional in the industry, Zaitz emphasizes that it is essential for a photographer to constantly strive for improvement.

"Competition is getting more challenging with each year," he says. "It’s not good enough to be 'good enough.'"

"Strive to be the best at what you do and never stop trying to improve," says Zaitz. "I’ve been shooting for decades and I’m still finding ways to push the envelope."