In the back of every college art major’s mind is the worry of how to thrive in such a competitive and selective industry after leaving school.
Looking to change that narrative, numerous colleges around the state gather to participate in a photography program known as Photo Utah EDU.
Salt Lake Community College hosted the 3rd annual Photo Utah EDU on Friday at South City Campus. Photography students and faculty members representing schools like SLCC, Snow College, Westminster College, Weber State University and the University of Utah got together to share work, professional experiences and network.
SLCC Associate Professor Terry Martin was instrumental in starting this event, as he realized the disconnect between students and teachers interacting between Utah colleges.
“The concept came about after attending the Society for Photographic Education National Conferences,” Martin says. “That’s when I realized that the schools, other photographers, and especially faculty don’t really connect. We don’t talk much about what we do, what our programs are, we are off on our own little islands. I said, ‘What if we do something like this? What if we organize an event where we bring all the schools together?’”
Even though the conference is still in its infancy, Martin has found that attendees of the event have been making valuable career connections through the conference.
“We’ve got some articulations that have been coming through that we didn’t have before, some of our students now are reaching out to some of the other students to communicate. That’s been awesome to see,” says Martin.
Expectations like these have been met again and again with opportunities presented at the conference such as alumni panels, keynotes and portfolio reviews. This is particularly the case for SLCC student Cameron Howell.
Howell is currently in the SLCC photography program and came to Photo Utah EDU to expand his peer and professional network.
“Last year they had Vincent Versace come and speak to us. He was very insightful, and I learned a lot from him. I really like to put myself in the way of big professionals in the industry and learn from them,” Howell says.
While Photo Utah EDU may seem to be only available to those in the photography programs, students from other majors or those with a passion for image-making are encouraged to come and participate.
Martin sees the event as capable of helping other students as well.
“One, the networking. Everyone here is in photography, photographers need writers,” he says. “The networking could be really awesome if more non-photo and non-art students attended.”
Howell echoes a similar perspective, saying the reason to come is to network, to learn and to connect with people at SLCC as well as outside of it.
When it comes to photography programs outside of the classroom, Photo Utah EDU has been answering the call. Valuable industry insights, genuine work relationships and an inclusive learning environment lend to a supportive platform for all students and faculty across the state to succeed in the arts.
Photos by Will Samsky