Derek Gifford left Salt Lake Community College with the skills he needed to pursue his passion.
Now a professional photographer based in Farmington, Gifford chose SLCC over the University of Utah and Brigham Young University to learn his craft.
“I had heard from others that [SLCC] had a really good photography program,” Gifford says. “The [U of U photography program] didn’t have a good reputation and BYU had standards and requirements I wasn’t willing to live up to.”
Gifford went to SLCC starting in 2002 and earned an associate of applied science degree in photography in 2005.
During his time at SLCC he gained other valuable skills that applied directly to his career.
“One thing in particular that I learned from the instructors was the importance of networking and sharing knowledge with others,” Gifford says.
Gifford landed a job at Backcountry.com and worked as a freelance photographer after graduation.
SLCC professors were like mentors to Gifford.
“I liked that my teachers had worked in the field and could give me real-world advice,” Gifford says. “They were willing to teach me things outside of the structured lesson plans and that helped me out a lot.”
Gifford had originally planned to work as a freelance wedding or event photographer. After learning he had different strengths while attending school, his plans changed.
“What I learned [at SLCC] was that I was much better in the [photography] studio than I ever knew,” Gifford says. “What I learned opened up the opportunity to be an in-house photographer for Backcountry.com and later on for Browning.”
Gifford is the lead product and lifestyle photographer for Browning. His images can be seen in sporting goods media around the world.
Gifford plans to stay with Browning as long as he feels like he is making a difference.
To current and future photography students, Gifford offers some advice.
“Practice, practice, practice. Stop looking at blogs and do photography your way.”