Student Work #007 – Book Covers with Christopher Barzak

Christopher Barzak, Crawford Award-winning YA author and Professor of Creative Writing at Youngstown State University, provided two unpublished short stories to my EMAC classes last Spring, and after the success of our vector-based "book cover" design project, I decided to give the project to my current Fall 2016 students as their final vector project. I think the results speak for themselves. Once again, I just want to offer my personal thanks to Chris for making his work available for this project.

Click on the gallery below for selected project submissions.

Student Work #005 - Illustration Creation

On the second day of instruction in vector and Adobe Illustrator, students were directed during a class exercise to find an image on the internet and, using it as a reference, illustrate it by hand using the software. For homework, students were instructed to seek out and incorporate a second image into the first, either interacting with or incorporating it into the original illustration.

Student Work #004 – Vector Portraits

Students were directed to choose a selfie as a reference and create a vector self portrait in Adobe Illustrator using individually-created shapes filled with sampled colors. These images were created without the use of filters or automated tools during the third day of instruction in the software.

Student Work #003 – Book Covers with Christopher Barzak

Students in my Spring 2016 sections of Electronic Media & Culture at MICA were treated to a special project to conclude our section on vector illustration.

Christopher Barzak, Crawford Award-winning YA author and Professor of Creative Writing at Youngstown State University, sent along two unpublished short stories—The Blue Egg and The Flood—and I directed my students to choose one story and create a “book cover” for that story. It's always a great pleasure to work with colleagues across academic institutions, and more importantly, to have students engaging with professional makers outside of the MICA bubble. I want to thank Chris for participating in this project and for giving my EMAC students this opportunity.

Click on the gallery below for selected project submissions.

Former Student Wins Award

Very happy to share that one of my former students, Tameka Shelford, just won 1st place in the Intermediate category in the Johns Hopkins National Arts Program contest with a photo of her brother that she took for my Digital Darkroom class, and hers is the first photo to ever win Best in Show. Just great news. It's always wonderful to see students put their work out there and get recognition for their efforts. Tameka was an amazing, dedicated student in my class, and I suspect this isn't the last time her name will be called at an awards ceremony.

Takeil  by Tameka Shelford

Takeil by Tameka Shelford

Photo 480 Gets Surprise Guest Critics

Students in my Stevenson University Photo 480 Portfolio Development course were treated to not one, not two, but three guest critics for the final in-class critique May 6. Joining us were graphic designer and SU Internship Coordinator Alissa Jones, MICA Assistant Photo Lab Manager, Baltimore-based photographer and former SU photo professor Jefferson Steele, and Baltimore City Paper Photo Editor Joe Giordano. The six students broke off into pairs, and when each pair met with a critic, one student would present while the other would observe and take notes. Once a student had presented, the pair would move on to the next critic and switch places. In this way, each student had the opportunity to both present to each critic and observe their peer partner present to each critic. Not only was this the culmination of the 16-week portfolio course, but it was also practice for the annual Spring Advisory Board Breakfast and Portfolio Review for graduating seniors, which took place just a week later.

Once again, I am humbled by the generosity of those who would volunteer their time and energies to help develop these up-and-coming designers and photographers. Alissa, Jefferson and Joe have my deepest gratitude for making our last class such a great experience.

Student Work #002

We had a productive Spring semester in both of my Basic Digital Photography 141 courses at Stevenson University. My students worked hard, and though none of them are pursuing the photographic arts as a profession, they had the opportunity at the end to experience both the pressure and the excitement of developing a photography project from scratch. I gave them a month and only this prompt: "Anything you want." The rest was up to them. Here are my selections of the very best work produced during the SU Photo 141 ON1 and ONE2 Spring 2015 Final Project.

Graphic Designer Bob Gillespie Visits Photo 480

Baltimore-based graphic designer Bob Gillespie paid a visit to my Photo 480 class at Stevenson University last night to offer his thoughts on my students' online portfolios and resume designs. Anyone who knows Bob knows his enthusiasm, not only for design but for general excellence, and there's no doubt he brought all of that energy to the room.

Once again, I am humbled by the generosity of professionals who volunteer their time to talk to student makers.

To see some of Bob's amazing design work, visit him at

Graphic designer Bob Gillespie reviews a student resume at Stevenson University April 8.

Getty Images Photographer Patrick Smith Visits SU

Patrick Smith, Getty Images staff photographer and POYi's 2014 Sports Photographer of the Year, paid a visit to my 480 Photo Portfolio Development course at Stevenson University last night to help critique student work. After a talk about his photography and process, he had the opportunity to look at both new and re-worked in-process student projects and was kind enough to offer his insight and suggestions.

It is one of the great joys of being an educator to be able to bring professionals of this caliber to the classroom. Students not only hear about a professional's experiences and see the work with such intimacy, but the students also have the chance to share their work and get feedback from outside of the academic bubble. And let's not forget the extraordinary generosity of these professionals as they give their time and energies to the endeavor of fostering the next generation of makers. It was a great honor having Patrick as our guest, and we thank him for being a part of our classroom experience.

Click here to see Patrick's amazing photography.

Stevenson University VCD senior Michelle Canvisser presents her work to Patrick Smith, Getty Images staff photographer and POYi's 2014 Sports Photographer of the Year, during his visit to the 480 Photo Portfolio Development course April 1.

Student Work #001

During Basic Digital Photography at Stevenson University on Tuesday, we focused on faceless portraits. I kicked the energy up a notch, and once we added in a prop room, a construction site, a studio and a Larry Light, we really got some magic going. These students are all basic photo, all of them are shooting with their cameras set to manual mode, and many of them aren't even pursuing the arts as a career, so it is encouraging to see them exploring and experimenting and getting these kinds of results during just a practice session.

SU students featured in 'Baltimore Jewish Times'

I was pleased to get an e-mail this morning sharing a recent article in the Baltimore Jewish Times which features work and comments by one of my Photo 480 students, Michelle Canvisser. Her work and the work of other SU students is now showing in "E3: Exploring Eastern Europe" at Stevenson University’s St. Paul Companies Pavilion at 1525 Greenspring Valley Road in Stevenson, Md., where it will be exhibited until May 22.

Halt! Stoj!
Michelle Canvisser

Steven H. Silberg Visits SU

My dear friend and colleague Steven H. Silberg visited my 480 Photo Portfolio Development course last night at Stevenson University to talk about his work and offer insight into how he chooses work and presents his own portfolio. In addition to being a prolific cross- and multi-media artist, Steve is a Lecturer in Foundations, concentrating in photography and video, at University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and the winner of the Washington Post’s 2010 Real Art DC competition. His work can be found at

UMBC Lecturer Steven H. Silberg shows an example of one of his early-career physical portfolios to students in the 480 Photo Portfolio Development course at Stevenson University Feb. 25.

Stevenson University Students, Photo 141

Found some photos I've taken of students at Stevenson University over the last year. Whenever I let them loose to shoot around campus, I go along and practice right along with them, just so they can see that there are great photos everywhere, and no one is above good practice.