Student work captured in annual SMC photo show

The passions and gifts of this semester's photography students are now on display in the Barrett Art Gallery at SMC's Performing Arts Center and the photo gallery in Drescher Hall from May 15 through June 4.

The opening reception for the 31st Annual Student Photography Exhibit drew a large crowd Saturday evening full of praise for the eye candy lining the walls.

Over 1,000 students submitted photos, but due to space limitations only 20 percent were selected.

Michael Angelo Cruz works full-time in pharmaceutical sales but decided to enroll in a photography class this semester just for fun. His photo of two abandoned trains in the Mojave Desert made it to the final selection.

"It's fun because it's my first year of school and all these people that I'm competing with are pretty amazing. I can't believe that I'm with them," Cruz said.

Now that he's had his first taste of what it is like to be a photographer, Cruz admits he wants more. "I'm taking more courses. I'm taking this all the way," he said.

Just outside the entrance to the Drescher Hall photo gallery, a large display case spotlights three portrait photos that seize the attention of passersby. The centerpiece won the award for Best Black and White. It's a vivid portrait of light and dark, of the wild and surrendered aspects of a man. Jarrad Rosson is the second semester student who captured the image.

"I'm mainly a nature photographer. I've never been strong with portraiture," Rosson said. "But I wanted to push myself a little bit and do something out of my comfort zone."

Rosson said it was a laborious and long process to perfect that one print. He worked on the project with fellow classmate, Michael Price, who is the subject of the portrait.

"He's an interesting character and a very good friend," Rosson said of Price.

Photography has been a favorite hobby for Price for several years, but he says, "I came back to school to learn how to do it right."

Price himself received honorable mention for a photograph of an 1890's saloon car parked in Pioneer Town in the middle of the Mojave Desert.

"It's on private property," Price said. "I had to trespass to get to it."

For Price, the risk of doing what he loves has been worth the reward.

"I do it for myself and when others recognize it, it's just that much more special," Price said.

Rosson plans to pursue his photography as more than a pastime but acknowledged how difficult it might be.

"A lot of us are working really hard to make a career of photography. It's not easy, by any means," Rosson said.

Rosson said this project has taught him a lot and he feels he's learned to capture people and capture moments.

"It's a great feeling to produce work that's recognized and appreciated, especially when you're new to it," Rosson said. "It's definitely an addiction."

Now that Rosson has succeeded at his own challenge and reaped the rewards for his hard work, he says he's ready to move on to what's next.

"I feel like that's done… I've purged myself of it," he said. "There are a lot more images to be captured."

The majority of the images for this exhibit were of people – in varying places, costumes and expressions. All the people in and behind the photographs have a story to tell. All their stories have come together and made for a very worthwhile and inspiring exhibition.