Brooks Institute and Beyond
Brooks Institute of Photography was the Hogwarts of the photography world.
We created illusions, invoked feelings, divined the future from a shared hidden moment in time between two people, conjure nostalgia or enchanting someone to fall in love.
Photography is powerful.
I majored in Commercial Photography in the fall of 1999. I learned traditional photography techniques from some of the most accomplished photographers from the world, including: Christopher Broughton, Nick Dekker, Rob Winner and Bill Robins. The best of the best. I learned everything from black and white photography, taught myself the Zone System (the class was full), advanced wet process printing the darkroom, how to perform complex 30 minute exposures in the studio while building the image in stages and to the emerging field of digital photography at the time.
I researched the masters of the craft. Not only in their techniques, but who they were in their own context – in history. I am sure i am leaving some out, but they included: Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham, Joyce Tenneson, Mary Ellen Mark, Helmut Newton and Robert Maplethorpe.
One of the local Oregon photographers that inspired me originally was Shedrich Williames. I purchased a print of his from the series Omega from 1974 at an University of Oregon Fine Art auction. The range of tonality and the richness of it spoke to me. I wanted to learn how to do that.I met some of the most amazing people at Brooks. I learned from world class professors and inspiring young artists. Most are visionaries, others are adventurers. But in certain cases they were both.
I met my college roommate and good friend Matt Ferraro at Brooks. We started the same semester in school. Matt and I had lots of crazy adventures. He told me that all he ever wanted to do was go on an adventure, and so we did: Glacier National Park, Arches National Monument, Mt. Rushmore, Joshua Tree, the Badlands and even tornado chasing. We “borrowed” his Mom’s mini-van and drove across the Midwest following the NOAA weather radar tracking forecasts. We would follow super cells through Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas Missouri and Oklahoma. It was a wild time. I will share the photos.
Matt is a underwater photographer and film maker. We shared a house a block from the beach. He decided one day to go down to the Cousteau Ocean Futures Society and get a job doing anything he could from sorting photos or filling tanks. He eventually became the Director of Photography making IMAX underwater films of all sorts. Most people have seen his work on PBS, even if you have not realized it. Matt swims with piranha filming river dolphins in the Amazon and swims with great white sharks without a cage and was first in the water to film the gulf oil spill from beneath the surface. He is passionate about the ocean. Watch him; he will do great things.
At Brooks, the world class professor at Brooks you never expected was optical physicist Samuel Pellicori. He taught us various basic theories of optics: design and engineering in lenses, imaging arrays, , electromagnetic spectroscopy among other things.
He opened my eyes to looking at things in different hidden perspectives or “wavelengths” in the full spectrum of light, electromagnetically and metaphorically speaking. I started to develop lateral connections applying this perspective to other areas of academic interests of mine. Losing the monochromatic view of what I thought I knew.
Samuel Pellicori was a great professor and accomplished scientist. He did inspiring things. Sam was the lead and principle investigator of the Shroud of Turin Project. Some of the others on the team were the founder of Brooks Institute, Ernie Brooks, and Professor Evans.
Pellicori also he received the NASA Public Service Group Achievement Award for Pioneer 10 Instrument Team in 1974. Pioneer 10 was the first space probe to Jupiter and out of the solar system. He built the imaging system for the probe. The field of view of the lens was 0.03 degrees and the probe spin several times a minute recording the images in stripes and then reconstructed with computer software at mission control to build the images. It was the first spacecraft past the asteroid belt and the first to take close up photos of Jupiter. The probe was created i the late 1960’s. The probe ran on less power than a refrigerator light-bulb. Who in there right mind would say , yeah i got this. That was Samuel Pellicori. His details and experience are here on the Ionbeamoptics.com website. My passion of Astronomy was rekindled in me by Pellicori.
Linda Rollins was an editor for the LA Times (I think but I could be wrong – its been 17 years), was our English professor. She was a cross between a pissed off Master Gunnery SGT Drill Instructor and English Professor. The other students feared taking her class because it was so hard. But since I had been in the Marines – we got along great. Our final paper that was supposed to be 15 to 25 page research paper that could contain no more than 5 passive verbs in your entire final essay or you got an “F”. That includes the word “is”. I wrote a 25-page long research paper on Persian rugs and got a “A”. I have always loved a challenge.
At Brooks my artistic ability developed, as did a shift in my interests. I was a very analytical person before the Marines that had not changed. I noticed an increase in my artistic ability, ability to focus and delve deeply into any subject became more obvious. Visualization of light, object-spatial relationships, comparative ratios and recognizing patterns in nature became more obvious to me.
Photography was a combination of art and science and I loved it. From the history of the art form to the power to share a moment of time or a feeling. The power to communicate with people past a barrier of language. A forced perspective of truth. Photography for me became a process of self reflection if it was not commercial. I had learned something deeper than just the exposure compensation for Tri-x 400 ISO B&W film when the exposure is greater than 60 seconds. Or what a shadow edge transfer is and what determines the opacity of a highlight on a smooth glass reflective surface. No none of that.
That was all of the busy work while I learn something about myself. I came to the realization that our own reality is based on biased perceptions of others, but also dictated by our filter of our own culture and experience.
My father passed while I was at Brooks. It was a very difficult time for me. I ended up moving back to Oregon, and I never finished the degree program at Brooks. A degree in photography is still a Work-In-Process for me. It is one of my greatest regrets.
After working as a professional photographer for many years. Culminating in publication of some of my automobile photography in Vanity Faire in 2007 March. I decided to go back to college get a degree in computer science. Specifically, in web application development to use in my photography business for the management of stock photography licensing.
I went to Clackamas Community College in Oregon City, Oregon. I graduated in 2009 with honors with a combined GPA of 3.93. There was vast difference in my academic performance since high school. I found that I had the ability to scan blocks of code and find syntax errors like you would read poetry. II would have to focus my eyes intently forcing the muscles or completely ignore one eye due to the double vision. I worked my own small web design and development company for a while as the economy was collapsing. I finally made the decision to go and work for someone else.
That is where my journey to the bleeding edge of biotechnology began. That is when I met Dr Singh.