By Peter Hernandez
Instructor Marshall Berman is offering free lectures with professional photographers, and even the chance to eat Chinese food with them.
A series of evening lectures began this week which, by the semester’s end, will encompass a number of professional photographers’ personal experiences — from glacier photography to food photography — but always with a theme of exploration and travel.
The series also stands as the only weekly free photography lecture series provided to San Franciscans. Other colleges, like California College of the Arts and San Francisco Art Institute, only host a small handful of public lectures per semester.
Now in its fifteenth year, Berman’s lecture series is known for giving attendees an opportunity to peer into the professional lives of photographers that many students normally wouldn’t experience before entering the field. Considering the opportunity, it is unfortunate that Berman is still scrambling to fill the 350 seats in Conlan Hall, with only 25 students now registered.
“I’m trying to share something with students that they won’t get outside the Ivory Tower,” Berman said from his photography studio.
His Photography 52 course, Photographers and Their Images, showcases photographers like Walt Odets, who studied under Cartier-Bresson and shoots exclusively in black-and-white, and Deanne Delbridge, who will speak in terms of motivation and breaking into the professional realm of photography.
The series will begin August 27 with Sara Remmington, a native San Franciscan, whose bright and optimistic food photos display their subjects like precious gems and use editorial images that combine people, places and food.
Photojournalists and art photographers alike will also revel in the work of Judy Walgren, a Pulitzer-winning journalist. She and a team of journalists at the Dallas Morning News received the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting regarding their series on violent human rights that focused on abuse against women worldwide, including female genital mutilation among Islamic women in Somalia.
As Director of Photography for the San Francisco Chronicle, Walgren has commanded documentary photography with a flair for both natural beauty and drama.
Camille Seaman will also introduce her glacier photography on September 24. Her work creates identities of natural environments such as stormy weather or the slow melting of glaciers in Antarctica. Her work addresses environmental decay and serves as a visual recording of the effects of climate change.
“In my travels I have discovered that no matter how far I go, I am always the constant, and I carry with me all that I am,” Seaman wrote in a statement regarding a set of photos titled, “Earth Series Part 1: Ger (No Matter Where You Go You Are There)”.
Last semester, Berman invited photographers that had studied with Ansel Adams and former photographers from the San Francisco Examiner. Before the semester began, he had around 50 students enrolled — twice the amount of this year.
Berman’s dearth of enrolled students also parallels a campus-wide issue — fewer enrolled students overall, which some instructors have blamed on media, claiming it pushed students away who were fearful that their classes would be unaccredited.
The lecture series is also notorious for migrating to one of Berman’s favorite restaurants, Golden China, at the end of each lecture. There, the students, Berman and the current lecturer mingle and continue discussion informally through casual conversation.
“Each semester, you see five different philosophies about photography from professional photographers,” Berman said.
The series is open to the public and occurs every Monday night at 6:30 p.m., from August 27 through October 29. Berman is also accepting people who enroll late.