Tag Archives: Institute

Create Your Own Moment

In 2003, after 24 years in business for myself as a commercial photographer and photo lab services provider, I was ready to move beyond photography and into the next phase of my professional life: creation of an online presence through blogging, public speaking, writing, teaching and consulting. It was also a goal of mine to become a celebrity in the process. Eight years later, after concentrated effort and focus, trial and error, missteps and success I find myself in the catbird seat ready to push out to the world all that is me via my very own internet-based radio show on photography. (:()) How’s that!

I’m now at the spot I envisioned eight years ago, but I’m not surprised: hard work, relentless effort, laser focus and karma all mixed together will do that for any self-employed creative professional (SECP). I control my destiny, it’s up to me, sink or swim to make this a long-term success.

How did I get here?

Follow me:

1)     I fully committed to this from the jump. It was necessary to reaffirm this many times but I began at 100% full throttle. For me this was the only way to begin, no time for toe-dipping here, jump in and swim with purpose and a plan. When the inevitable forks in the road popped up I knew which ones to take advantage of. My fork collection is huge.

2)     I was fortunate to have been offered a teaching job at world famous Brooks Institute. From 2003-2009 I taught twice a week at the Ventura, CA campus. Met 100’s of students and many of them will be coming onto my show as interviewees. Cool. How did I get this gig? By paying it forward. Several years earlier I had occasion to view a photography show by Brooks Institute students at a gallery in Santa Barbara. The teacher of these students was looking for someone to help with a field trip to LA area photo studios. I didn’t know this teacher but I volunteered anyway as LA is my hometown, I like to be in the service of others (Makes me feel complete) and I had a studio. . The field trip successful. Everyone enjoyed themselves. When I called the school in ’03 to inquire about a teaching position, this teacher had become the Provost. He remembered that field trip and how I had volunteered to help him and his students. I was hired shortly after that phone call. KARMA.

3)     I’ve worked my connection with the school into opportunities to speak, run workshops, give interviews and to appear as Mr. Pixel on Phototalkradio.

4)     I began a blog on 6/22/08 and have acquired over 5,000 unique visitors and over 7,000 hits. Small in the world of the web but big for me and growing daily.

5)     My book was released on 11/17/09. It stayed in the top 100 (of its’ category) at Amazon for seven months.

6)     Credibility has led many companies to partner up with me more easily than if I had no book, no blog and no connection to a world class school.

7)     Not to be one to rest on my laurels, I went to a marketing boot camp in September of 2010 run by Craig Duswalt. There I met internet guru Tom Antion and was inspired by both of them to rethink my marketing efforts. While following Craig’s online presence I discovered his radio show on toginet.

8)     After speaking with Craig about his radio show (and having an empty credit card, always always a dangerous thing) I pulled the trigger on 50 hours of prime radio time programming.

I go live 2/4/11 at 9am: Build A Better Photograph with Michael E. Stern

Hard work, laser focus, relentless effort, karma and here I am!

What are you doing?

Michael

What Schools Really Do

Moo!

Moo!

I am midway through a new semester at Brooks Institute teaching a new class at the Ventura campus. Called Digital Color Workflow, the class is divided into three parts; Photoshop color and toning correction, conversion to and understanding of CMYK color theory and it all comes together as students then design their own promo piece for a print run at Ventura Printing. The class is well thought out and rigorous in it’s application of the theories and practices of color management, calibration, profiling, color correction and printing. Some students find they like this aspect of photography so much they begin to gravitate towards a career in the printing industry.

Which brings me to my point. Even though Brooks is a photography, film and graphic design school, the curriculum is very broad and deep. Students are exposed to so many aspects of the photography, film and graphic design fields that some move on to related fields after being exposed to a particular topic in school. I’ve had professional photography students come to the Ventura campus to switch to graphic design, some of my photo journalism students leave and go to the professional photography program in Santa Barbara. More than one film student has switched programs too. Some even leave us to pursue other fields because they found out photography/film/graphic design as a career isn’t for them. And that’s OK. As a school we’ve helped them find themselves, after all they’re going to be adults a lot longer then they’re going to be kids. It’s our job to help them in as many ways as we can. When a student leaves feeling confident and fulfilled, we’ve done our jobs well.

I’ve brought this approach to every place I’ve taught and the emails from students who have long since passed through my classroom have validated this approach to vocational education.

Brooks Institute

Winery in Hunter Valley, Australia

Winery in Hunter Valley, Australia

I was asked to teach PHO205, the intermediate location lighting class for the Visual Journalism program at Brooks Institutes’ Ventura campus. I taught continuously from May, 2003 until the end of February of 2008. Low enrollment numbers meant some adjunct faculty were not offered classes to teach.

Originally hired as the Photoshop Guru for the Ventura campus, my duties evolved into working with lower division students to help them understand in-camera reflective metering, color temperature theory, additive and subtractive color theory, ttl flash and manual flash. And of course a bit of Photoshop here and there.

I figured the time off would give me time to finish my book, redo my website start this blog and rebuild my Los Angeles based business. Which it did. I also hooked up with studioarts.com as one of their Photoshop experts. Life is good. The world isn’t so hot.

I’m fortunate to have what I have and continue to appreciate my life in new ways. In addition to running the PHO205 class again in Ventura, I am also sitting in on a class in Santa Barbara. Called Digital Fusion it is about digital color correction, color management and CMYK conversions and printing. At the end of the course each student will end up with 700 high-end professional promo pieces of their own design.

How cool it that? There may be room on the press for yours truly to get in on the action. Say what you will about Brooks but I like the place. I am well compensated for my efforts, some good people work there and of course the students. The best is receiving unsolicited emails from past students who have embraced the lessons of my classes and applied them successfully. Getting hugs from grateful current students and phone calls asking for help always make it a great day for me.

Glad to be back.