I have taken photographs since I was young - starting with a Brownie camera. My first formal training wasn’t until high school – if you can call a boy’s shop class at San Clemente High School formal. It was there I first developed film and printed my own prints. I went on to UC Berkeley and though my first degree was in History of Art, I never stopped taking photographs. I started taking photography classes at Berkeley when I was trying to graduate so I could get into graduate school and get my teaching credential. Penny Dhaemers took me on as an extra-credit student and I stayed that way during my credential course work which meant I had access to a darkroom all the way through! I started working on the “Nipple” project that I eventually turned into a poster calendar and sold starting in 1977 for the 1978 calendar year.. later I would do the “Bottom” project and I made that into a poster calendar for 1979 and I marketed them through the 1983 calendar year. I landed a student teaching assignment by being ridiculously persistent with Dorothy Mayers at Oakland High School in an ROC/ROP program. It turned out we got along famously and she gave me some great opportunities, including learning how to print color in her afternoon classes held at a photo store in Oakland. I loved teaching photography, but shortly after I graduated with my credential, Proposition 13 passed here in California and there were no teaching jobs in the arts.
My Dad needed help in his food business in Irvine, so I returned to Southern California and continued my reign as First Sandwich Princess of Orange County, my sisters, who are younger, being second and third. When I missed photography so much my teeth ached, I signed up for evening classes at Orange Coast College. I would be so excited when I got home from the darkroom at night that I couldn’t sleep until 2 or 3 and had to get up at six to be at work. I decided I had a real passion that I needed to pay attention to, and I needed to find out if I had whatever it took to be a photographer. I figured a Master's thesis could give me an opportunity to challenge myself and would legitimize taking on whatever project ended up being the challenge - if I tried it and I wasn't any good, I would still have an MA. I looked at graduate schools all over and ultimately decided to apply back at Berkeley because I already knew the darkroom, the teachers and I knew I would be able to come up with my own thesis project. I needed the proof of my thesis to be proof to myself whether or not I could do this kind of work. I applied to get into both UC Berkeley’s program in Visual Design and the Ansel Adams Workshop at the same time - and got into both!
The Workshop was in August and the Master’s Program started in September. A week in Yosemite with Ansel Adams, Arnold Newman, Arthur Ollman among others was mind boggling to say the least. To be in the same room with absolute heroes of the photographic world, much less have them look at my work and give me feedback was flabbergasting. And by the end of the week in Yosemite I had been offered the opportunity to be an assistant at future workshops. Twist my arm! My head was still spinning when I landed back in Berkeley to start my course work for my Master’s degree.
to be continued....