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Brooks Institute Closing
Ian L. Sitren, Photographer
Palm Springs | CA | USA | Posted: 4:34 PM on 08.12.16
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Matt Brown, Photographer
Fullerton | CA | USA | Posted: 5:01 PM on 08.12.16
->> wow
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Garrett Hubbard, Photographer
Washington | D.C. | USA | Posted: 6:20 PM on 08.12.16
->> Ugh. What a loss. For-profit education, corporate greed and bad leadership can never take away the great education I received at Brooks. I'm so thankful for the mentors, countless professional connections, and friends I made through that school.
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Ian L. Sitren, Photographer
Palm Springs | CA | USA | Posted: 7:31 PM on 08.12.16
->> From what I saw, the people coming out of Brooks really got a great education and experience. And many of the staff from Brooks who I have met seemed like great well intentioned people.

But as Garrett said above "For-profit education, corporate greed and bad leadership"
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 11:10 AM on 08.15.16
->> In response to Garrett's opinion of for-profit universities being greedy with bad leadership, Pulitzer prize winning photographer Gerry Gay graduated from Brooks as did numerous now top photographers and filmmakers. And one of the chairs there is a former LA Times photographer of great skill who is also a former National Geographic photo editor. Plus, some of the instructors there have been acclaimed Hollywood filmmakers and photographers. So being a for-profit institution doesn't also mean it provides a poor education and has bad leadership throughout.

Brooks has been an internationally acclaimed institution for 70+ years. It didn't come under federal scrutiny until the Brooks family sold the school to Career Education Corp. in 1999 whereupon under the new ownership it got in trouble for false statements and recruiting practices in 2005, according to its Wikipedia history. A settlement was made in 2006 with restitution dating back to 1999 when CEC took over. Last year the school was sold to another company who decided last week to shut it down at the end of October.

I'm sure a lot of you will agree that there are many newspapers today that have poor "corporate" management. But does that mean the papers themselves and the staff photographers are below par and should be shunned? I don't think so.

For transparency, I happen to teach at The Art Institute of Salt Lake City which is owned by EDMC who settled similar charges with the federal government last year. While what happened at the top corporate level and recruiting side of the colleges was bad, it had no effect on how I and others taught our classes with a top level of professionalism and knowledge. Because of declining enrollments, ten Ai campuses across the nation are closing once the last student graduates -- including AiSLC. My photo classes end in December.
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Stanley Leary, Photographer, Photo Editor
Roswell | GA | | Posted: 4:36 PM on 08.15.16
->> Doug

Garrett is one of the shining stars who graduated from Brooks.
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Ian L. Sitren, Photographer
Palm Springs | CA | USA | Posted: 2:44 PM on 08.16.16
->> In the Los Angeles Times...
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Gene Boyars, Photographer
Manalapan | NJ | United States | Posted: 7:15 PM on 08.16.16
->> Putting the issues of for profit education and questionable management aside does anyone else see this as part of the growing decline in the ability for photo-journalists to make a real living anymore? Between the decline in print and the rise in work for cheap/free I believe that people are thinking twice about investing in this kind of education anymore. I know Brooks has turned out a lot of great people but to me, it sounds like they got caught up in the mess that too many of us face now.
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 7:08 AM on 08.17.16
->> @Gene - Your point is well taken and hopefully will get some objective responses from the Sportshooter community.

My personal opinion and thoughts are:

1. The photo-journalism industry, as a total, responded to the impact of the "digital age" way too late. For years they were in denial and it took the industry to come crashing down around them to get them to finally believe the reality they were faced with. Vincent Laforet, and a hand full of others, where the exception and leap-frogged ahead of everyone focusing their efforts on video production.

2. They educational needs of photographers has also changed dramatically. Technology and automation allow us to do much more than we ever did in the film days. Today, a person wanting to get in the photographic business would be better off getting a solid 4 year degree in business, take elective classes in Adobe software products, and work part-time for their local newspaper under the guidance of a good mentor.

3. Change isn't over. There's more to come. Think about a DSLR that can shoot stills and 4K video at the same time remotely (without a photographer behind it). Think about the over saturation of social media and the end user needing to filter out all of the noise to get to the information they want to view. Let's check back in five years and see if we even recognize the year 2016.

4. My final point is an important one. There are still great opportunities to make money in this industry. However, if your feet are buried in the concrete footings of the "good old days" you'll never see or understand them. The advantage that a young person has is that they don't have the past to drag around behind them. All they know is what they see now and into the future.

Like many of you, I have been contacted by young people wanting my thoughts about going to college and get into the photographic industry. I generally advise them #2 above. If they are smart business folks, have good people skills, and produce quality work ... there will be a future for them.

(Again .... right/wrong .... these are just my personal thoughts and observations. I'm VERY interested in what others have to share on this topic!!!)
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Stanley Leary, Photographer, Photo Editor
Roswell | GA | | Posted: 9:50 AM on 08.17.16
->> Today you don't need an operator to make a phone call. The technology has made phones so easy to use and connect to the world without the help of a person/operator.

Like the phone industry, photography has gone through major technology advances. Today people don't need a professional photographer to get a photo.

For those situations where the public hired photographers because they didn't know how to get a good well exposed and in focus photo, those jobs are gone.

Today I believe the demand for storytellers and artists is at an all time high.

Now if you are still trying to find those same jobs in those traditional media outlets then you might think there are no opportunities in the industry.

We no longer have gate keepers that you need to get your work published. In the days of traditional media you had to get an editor to like your work and publish it for people to see it.

Today you can self publish so easily. You can publish online and even publish your own magazines, books and other printed material with little investment as in the older days.

Today you need:
1. Business skills
2. Marketing skills
3. Negotiating skills
4. Understand what clients need
5. Artistic vision
6. Storytelling skills

I believe everyone and not just photographers need these 6 skills to be competitive: [from my friend Houston Davis]

1) Critical Thinking
2) Global Engagement
3) Information Discovery – Able to deal with Ambiguity
4) Communication Skills – Written & Oral
5) Ability to have had an internship, apprenticeship or some real world experience in a profession while in school
6) Undergraduate Research
7) Have all this documented so that employers can see the skills you have acquired.
a) Creative
b) Global
c) Documentation
d) Leadership
e) Research
f) Service

What is no longer working is making cold calls and asking do you have work for me.

What is working the person offering solutions to clients problems that they haven't even thought about and therefore need to hire you to execute those ideas.
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 11:44 AM on 08.17.16
->> KUDOS to both Kevin and Stanley. Their insights are right on!

As to the late response to digital, another factor back then was cost. In the "old" days, when photographers may have supplied his/her own equipment, the first digital cameras were extremely expensive. While a Nikon F3 was several hundred dollars, AP's first digital body that had a 1.2 megapixel chip was around $17k. Plus zip and hard drives were very costly. Freelancers and many newspapers could not afford them. We were well into the digital age at papers where the companies bought the gear before camera prices dropped enough for freelancers to afford the digital switchover. Then prices continued to drop to the point where most everyone can now afford digital.

Also in the "old" days were the needed skill sets of processing film and making prints with equipment the masses did not have. That's gone. With the accuracy of automatic settings today even the high end dSLRs are reduced to the simplicity of point and shoot cameras. And where one was once limited to the cost of 36-exposure rolls of film, a $10 16-GB memory card can hold thousands of images and be used over and over again.

Plus we have the lowering of standards that allow for the usage of consumer imagery supplied for free or little costs. A photo made by a $6k camera looks no better than a iPhone image when displayed at 500 pixels on a webpage. Why pay big bucks for a pro photographer when you can get usable images for free by holding a contest? A few years ago two cities in my state held contests where entrants were to showcase their town. The prizes were donated dinners at local restaurants. Each city had thousands of pictures entered whereupon there were a couple dozen they could use anyway they wanted because the contests' fine print said by entering the competition the entrant gave the cities full, free and perpetual rights to the photos.

A couple weeks ago another SS member started thread asking for advice on how to train his paper's reporters in the use of iPhone picture taking. Responses ranged from using free YouTube videos to tutorials and sending the reporters to a community college to learn storytelling which would involve time and costs. Look at various TV station websites and you'll find instead of original photography they are using RF stock art. A couple years ago I found on an Oregon station's website a story about a California brown bear mauling a person. The stock photo was of a common black bear from the east coast. A bear is a bear, right? And how many times do we see DJI quadcopters illustrating drone stories when the copy talks about a completely different type aircraft? This all goes to the lowering of standards to meet economic needs and laziness.

In the "old" days competition was basically confined to pro photographers because of costs and technical knowledge; those rules don't apply anymore. So how does one compete today against the masses? Just as the two gentlemen above said -- through business, marketing and negotiating skills, research, creativeness and THINKING.
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Gene Boyars, Photographer
Manalapan | NJ | United States | Posted: 3:53 PM on 08.17.16
->> Kevin K, change is never over. I was fortunate enough to enjoy a 46 year career before retiring last year. I never did anything but make pictures but there were at least 6 different re-inventions of me over those years. In a way I was lucky that I did not really get involved with photography until the middle of my college years so I already had my plan in place for a degree in business. By the time photography and I met I was too far along to change directions. Learning about business and economics helped me to adjust along the way. Changes are always coming and those who can understand the changes and adjust and adapt are the ones who survive. This applies to much more than photography and journalism.

Stanley, well said. I only hope others are listening...
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Debra L Rothenberg, Photographer
New York | NY | USA | Posted: 7:25 PM on 08.17.16
->> I gave a presentation to the students there a few years ago and I was so impressed with EVERYTHING about Brooks. The teachers were top notch, the facilities, the students. This is so sad. I knew a few who are just a few credits away from graduating too.
I wanted to go to Brooks but my parents didn't want me going to the other coast since it was so far away. Speaking to the students was a great way to feel part of it.
This is really a shame.
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor, Photographer
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 11:33 PM on 08.19.16
->> What shocked me was that a former co-worker was in a top leadership position there, right up to the end. He had to know what was going on. I'm very disappointed in him.

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Nic Coury, Photographer
Monterey | CA | | Posted: 1:45 AM on 08.23.16
->> Today you need:
1. Business skills
2. Marketing skills
3. Negotiating skills

Three things I regret not learning in college...

When I speak to colleges and other classes now, I tell them all that anyone can learn the technical, but to focus on the business, legal and ethics of photojournalism. Those three things have helped me daily more so than the technical aspects of shooting ever will.

I'm lucky to have a staff job still, and while it doesn't pay great, I make a living. I do freelance and work shooting commercial and private client work too, because I live in California and stupid expensive here...

I remember in college, I was writing and shooting and someone told me I really needed to focus on one or the other in my career and at the time, I said no, I need to have a good understanding of all fields and it probably has saved me too. I'm namely our staff photographer, but I'm also a regular writer, covering the crime beat and short stories, but also writing features and magazine covers ranging from 800 to 3,000 words, both for our paper, national magazines and other stuff. I do the video thing too for commercial clients.

As Kevin says, "There are still great opportunities to make money in this industry." It's about adapting and not being still. The work, while declined or changing, is definitely still there. I do a lot of freelance commercial stuff for clients' websites, etc. Small photos that help their product.

That all being said, and I agree with what others have posted, is working hard and being professional still makes a big difference in the field, any field really. Don't be an a$%hat and treat everyone with respect.
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Tim Cowie, Photographer, Photo Editor
Davidson | NC | USA | Posted: 11:18 AM on 10.14.16

Online auction of all their stuff - Impressive amount of equipment. I wish I lived on the west coast to participate.

Starts today - ends Tuesday
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Sam Santilli, Photographer, Photo Editor
Philippi | WV | USA | Posted: 11:31 AM on 10.17.16
->> Tim, you do not have to live in the area to take part. It is an online ONLY auction. They also refer you to a shipper (not affiliated)who can pack and send out your purchase(s).
Please be aware that there is an 18% seller commission and 7% CA sales tax on top of your sale price. That plus the S&H from a third party are fiscal issues that need to be factored
into your decision to bid.

And I do believe there is a $500.00 bid registration fee, but it should be refundable.

So basic math tells us a $100 winning bid before S&H will cost you $125.00.
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Thread Title: Brooks Institute Closing
Thread Started By: Ian L. Sitren
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