Western Academy of Photography

Well I guess this is as good a post for “Throwback Thursday” as any.  Last night I found out that the school where I studied photography has closed its doors.  

In the summer of 2002 I left my Silicon Valley Tech job and moved to Victoria British Columbia (I honestly can't fathom how it was that long ago already).  I didn’t really have anything to do up there and I had randomly heard about a photography school; the Western Academy of Photography.  I wasn’t really into photography or anything… I had recently bought a digital camera on a whim (a newly released top of the line super high resolution 6MP Canon D60) and thought it would be interesting to go to the school as a way to pass the time..

I almost didn’t get in.  The Professional Photography program was completely booked.  It was the first day of school, my birthday as it turns out, and apparently someone didn’t show.  I got their spot.  I showed up with my D60 and was told that I couldn’t use it.  I needed a film camera.  So I went out an bought a Canon Elan7 or something like that and started from there.  

The program starts you out with the basics; black and white.  We learned to shoot, process and print on black and white film.  I loved it right away.  It didn’t take long before I decided to upgrade my camera to a Hasselblad 501CM.  Man I loved that camera.  Even as the classes moved on to color film, I pretty much stuck to black and white.  I probably shot about 3 rolls of color film… whatever the bare minimum was to pass the color portion of class.

I was a pretty bad student.  I was only there to learn so I didn't really care about passing or graduating.  If I wasn't interested in the subject I didn't bother with it (uh, those damn photograms).  When I started I didn't even know what I was interested in shooting.  I shot everything... flowers, trees, buildings.  Anything I saw.  But it didn't take long to figure out that I really liked shooting people, so that's what I started to focus on.  

When you look through the photos below you'll probably be able to clearly see who I was ripping off:  Avedon, Peter Lindberg, Nigel Parry, and Keith Carter.  I became obsessed with buying photography books, those photographers in particular.  I haven't bought many photography books in years but my girlfriend still complains about the space they take up and that's just the ones from when I was in Victoria.

I honestly always expected to move back to California and go right back to being an engineer.  But after getting in the program and falling in love with photography, I decided to give it a try when I moved back.  I can honestly say that my life would be a night and day difference to what it is now if it wasn't for the Western Academy of Photography.  So I'd like to thank everyone at WAP but most importantly I want to thank Andrea Kucherawy, who ran the program, for everything she did for all the students (and myself in particular) for all these years.  Andrea made it what it was.  Thank you Andrea!

Well, here are some of the shots from from that year at Western Academy.  As you can see, I loved my Hasselblad borders: