Changing of the guard
The Santa Monica College photography department's new chair is Ford Lowcock, and in congruence with his 39 years of experience in the field and visions of three other full time faculty members, change is in store.
"After several years of discussion, the department is headed in a new direction," says SMC professor of photography Bob Ware.
The department is making a point to prepare SMC photo students for the commercial photography industry, which is constantly adapting.
Lowcock, who has been with SMC since 1992, says the department needs to put a focus on "ways to provide a richer education to our students that they can't get in a classroom."
These goals involve having more companies interested in what SMC's photography department does and creating partnerships with these companies that will work in the students' best interests.
Lowcock and his photography team are redesigning requirements for an associate degree, with an emphasis on community outreach. One of the ways this objective will be fulfilled is by sending students to Photo LA, the annual international photographic art exhibition.
This year, 18 of SMC's photography students were invited to Photo LA to show and sell their work and gain knowledge on how to network and close deals on the commercial side of the photography industry.
Ware says that the photography department has worked with their outside advisory board — consisting of American Photographic Artists' local chapter, creative firms, and representatives from Matel and Boeing — to make their degree path more commercial-orientated, so that when students graduate, they can "hit the ground running."
"Students graduating under recent changes will be extremely confident, and have a wider, deeper set of skills, compared to a few years ago," says Ware.
Students will expectedly obtain new skill sets as a result of learning sophisticated lighting techniques, experiencing a more intense introduction to studio work, working on assignments based off potential clients' points of view, and having the option to attend more night classes, according to Ware.
Ware says that due to advanced technology, commercial photography has adapted from film to digital at a rapid pace, and SMC's photography department is following suit, changing their full commercial side to solely digital.
But the department still believes in the validity of knowing film in order to understand digital, according to Lowcock. As a result, film classes will still be available for students to take in order to complete their associate degree.
"We don't want to lose sight of the traditional process of film based on darkrooms that are still implemented for fine art and a small handful of commercial photography," says Ware.
Ware has the utmost confidence in Lowcock as the new photography department chair.
"He'll be an excellent department chair," says Ware. "There are exciting times ahead."