Southeast Missouri State University - 10 Years In The Making
In the summer of 2012 I moved from Buffalo NY to Cape Girardeau MO to start my first full time teaching position at Southeast Missouri State University in their Commercial Photography program. I had just finished my MFA at SUNY and I was ready to get down to moulding young minds! A lot has happened since then. I was initially placed in the department of Polytechnic Studies and eventually landed in the department of Art + Design. The photography program shifted to Commercial Multimedia which shifted again to Photography and New Media. Hundreds of students have come and gone and some incredible friendships have been forged.
This whole year I’ve spent time reflecting on the time I’ve spent here and a lingering feeling has emerged, a desire even, of getting back to my commercial roots. My undergraduate degree was in Commercial Advertising and I’ve never really felt like I’ve found my spot in image making – outside of artwork. While I’ve been shooting on the side this whole time, mostly food and beverage shots for Chef Dwayne Schaff, I’ve never really felt as though the work I make had any real heart to it.
In the summer of 2019 our family moved into a Mid-century sprawling ranch on 3 acres that was in dire need of a revival. This event became somewhat of a catalyst as I refused to let our real estate agent pay a photographer to take pictures of the house we sold. Photographing it was fun, granted I didn’t do much more than anyone else would have, but since it was my house I was able to take my time and had one of my better students following me around helping out. I had not photographed architecture since I was at Brooks Institute as part of a class. Oddly enough that summer I was approached by Trivers Architecture firm to photograph a Cyber Security Lounge they built for the University here. I did a very mediocre job and charged them an amount that reflected it. It was much more challenging than my home. I knew all the best times of day and all the angles of my own home and I was given a directive of where to shoot and what angle of view to include. The feeling that I could have done better has always bothered me but I never really had the time or incentive to talk my way back into that space.
Fast forward to 2022 and I got the opportunity to write an article for Mind + Body Magazine about a local legend and Mid-Century architect John L.E. Boardman who designed my own home as well as many other examples of the genre in the Southeast Missouri region. Again I found myself needing pictures of the homes I wrote about and the idea of hiring a photographer was not much of an option. My first few attempts were rough. I spent 3 days trying to photograph my living room. The challenge of trying to balance natural light and strobe during a 20 minute window of great light had me cursing and frustrated. By the 3rd day I finally landed on an image I found adequate but nothing I was proud of. But the experience had sparked something I had not felt in a long time. I had a desire to get better at this and really sink my teeth into it. Long story short, it was these things that I feel helped me realize I now had a direction in which to drive my work forward. In honor of it and the 10 years I’ve spent here at SEMO I decided to take a picture of the Polytechnic Studies building and the River Campus Arts Center – the building I started in and the building to which I now belong. Also for kicks here are two of the images I took for Trivers.