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Interview with photography student Donny DeBruno

Donny pic

Portrait by Arturo Gonzalez

We met Donny at our annual student show, where he had several beautiful pieces on display. Below, he talks about his experience in the Photography Certificate, and his goals for the future.

Tell us about how you got interested in photography, and why you chose the UCLA Extension Photography Certificate.

On an outdoor field trip in elementary school, I was handed a camcorder. The permanence and novelty of the recorded image captivated me and propelled me to a still camera.  Years later, after photographing a bird in flight next to the beach, I realized the pedestrian could be filled with anxious moments and the mundane often contained hidden potential that could be captured with a release of a shutter.  It was at this time that I began using a digital camera to interact with my environment instead of just observing it.

As I accumulated images, I sought a better way to evaluate and critique my work.  I discovered UCLA Extension which provided a path for technical and creative growth with the flexibility of online classes.  Although my fist classes were Photoshop 1 and Illustrator 1, with the intent of pursuing graphic and industrial design, I quickly gravitated to photography after signing up for the Portfolio Workshop class on whim.  It was this class that gave me structure to begin assembling photographs as a body of work and gave me the chance to present and have my photographs critiqued in front of a group.


For someone who is new to photography, what should they know about getting started?

Everyone’s path into photography varies, however, for me I was seeking a way to effectively express and communicate my work. It was through the UCLA Extension certificate program that I was able to find my voice and the confidence to clearly critique my own work.

Those new to photography should know when getting started its not critical to have the latest and greatest cameras and lenses. I quickly learned when presenting my work in class or in a professional setting, that my work would be selected over others due to the quality and strength of the photograph and not what equipment was used.


What was your favorite UCLA Extension class and why? 

Architectural Photography with Douglas Hill, Photography II with David Daigle and Lighting I and II with Kevin Merrill were some of my top classes, but History of Photography with Richard Langendorf was by far my favorite.  Don’t let the title of the class fool you, History of Photography was probably the hardest and most time-intensive class I have ever taken.  Throughout weekly assignments, Richard asks students to recreate famous photographs starting from the earliest known surviving photograph taken by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1826 to modern works taken by the likes of Andreas Gursky and Jeff Wall.  Finally, Richard has students present their work via PowerPoint presentations that reflect the original work, your interpretation of it, including before and after images of your edits in Photoshop.

What separated this class from the rest was it forced me to think about a photograph that I was going to take before taking it, and how I was going to present it in class.  In the end, this class made me a better photographer and was well worth the effort I put into it.

DeBruno_Donny_Photo II-1

Where do you hope to take your practice in the future?

 I aspire to be a full time photographer displaying my work in galleries, and also creating books and wearable art such as clothing. As I near the end of the UCLA Extension program, I have begun seeking opportunities with my current employer that would make photography my main focus.

DeBruno_Donny_Photo II-4

What are you working on right now.

 My web site, www.donnydebruno.com.

An illustrated book based on a poem I wrote in the 6th grade that relates to a  photograph I took last year.

Currently redesigning the next generation of point of purchase Skateboard racks that should come out later this year for the Arbor Collective. www.arborcollective.com

DeBruno_Donny_Photo II-5


Interview with photography student Fosion Fernando

Fosion Portrait

Portrait by William Ortwin

We met with Fosion for a final portfolio review after he had finished his Photography Certificate. We loved hearing about his life and work, so asked if he would share some thoughts. Read more to hear his advice to new photographers, and his dream assignment!

Tell us about yourself and how you began your photography practice.

I grew up locally here living in Los Angeles. My ethnic background stemming from Peruvian parents gave me the opportunity to live in Lima, Peru a year after high school. It broadened my understanding of the culture and furthered my desire to learn more about different cultures. I had a passionate interest in sports and played for a few different soccer teams in my teens. My attention span grew shorter as I got older – my college years were short lived as I entered the corporate world at a young age. Fast forward a decade to the present with my recent certificate in photography from UCLA Extension. What propelled me to start a photography practice was the desire to do something I was completely passionate about and connect with people through the art of photography. The thought of combining something I enjoy doing and creating an income from it is a life goal for me. Photography appealed to me several years back as I really enjoyed capturing candid moments and the way an image can make you feel by composition and other factors. I’ve always enjoyed reminiscing over old images and getting a certain feeling come back to me as if time never passed.


For someone who is new to photography, what should they know about getting started?

Photography is an art. It is there to create a reaction. Learn all the rules and technical aspects of shooting but at the end it will always be about what you are trying to express. Also, lighting is extremely important!


What was your favorite UCLA Extension class and why?

I had really great classes and teachers. Very happy with several of those classes. If I had to choose a favorite it would be Portfolio with David Daigle. I enjoyed this class because it really challenged me to think about what I was trying to capture and why I was shooting it. It was about really observing the details of the images and seeing how the image was interpreted by others. A thick skin was good for this class and I enjoyed that!


What would be your dream job in photography?

My dream job would be either entail traveling all over the world and capturing amazing work like Steven McCurry captures or getting the opportunity to enjoy the world of fashion as Mario Testino currently does through his work and campaigns.

What are you working on right now?

I am currently working on creating a Photo Blog that captures my recent works. As a freelancer it is also hard to express one type of work as your eye is on several things. My current interests are set on Food, Portraiture , Fashion and Stock photograph

To see more of Fosion’s work, visit www.FosionFernando.com.


Submit your work to It’s Your Show!


Students at It’s Your Show 2015

It’s Your Show needs your work! The deadline to submit has been extended to April 11.

Once the deadline has passed, all work will be reviewed, and we will be contacting students via e-mail on or before April 13 with the results.

Students whose work is chosen for the show will receive detailed drop-off instructions at that time. You will be required to sign a waiver when you drop off your original work.

The opening reception is Friday, April 29, 6:30 – 8:30 pm, at the 1010 Westwood Center Gallery, 4th floor and is open to the public.

To submit:

Open to all original work created in a UCLA Extension Studio Arts, Photography or Design Communication Arts course in the last two years. All genres, formats, and media are eligible.

Email design work to dca@uclaextension.edu.
Email photography and studio art work to visualarts@uclaextension.edu.

Files should be .pdf or .jpeg images no larger than 1MB and named in the format described below. Include your name and phone number in the body of the email.

Digital File Label:


Digital submissions only.

Please call (310) 206-1422 with any questions.

Meet new DCA instructor Christina Webb

We’re thrilled to welcome Christina Webb to the UCLAx Visual Arts community! Christina brings a wealth of experience from her MFA work at the Rhode Island School of Design and her client work in web design, screen design, photography and custom typography. She has also worked on teams at Local Projects and the J. Paul Getty Museum Design Studio where she focused on exhibitions, way-finding, and identity systems for environments and print.

Christina Webb

Christina Webb

Her own practice explores social constructs and dialog in public spaces, with a focus on language and intervention.

Christina is teaching Typography this winter quarter.

What brought you to this field?

I stumbled into graphics in high school, when my infatuation with music, alternative fashion and drawing took new form on t-shirts, faux album art and small local ads. I was part of an expressive punk D.I.Y. culture, and I’ve always loved being hands on and experimental. I became a hair designer and designed my own ads using single-color xerox printers. Later on a new love for digital tools and fine art would lead me into formal training  in a B.F.A. program in Seattle. I was reluctant to take 4(!) lettering and typography courses, but the right professor brought the expressive, irreverent and hands-on love into it and the rest is history. I have since designed commissioned logotypes, print campaigns, exhibition campaigns, interactive type and environmental type installations. I continued to take advanced typography workshops while working as a designer, and focused on it it much of my recent graduate education.

perifix-IMG_0751-770x578Tell us about an especially rewarding project you’ve worked on and why you enjoyed it so much.

There are several, but one of my recent projects that I undertook during my graduate studies was particularly fun. I work in multiple disciplines and “Perifix” is an online project that can generate typographic content usable in other formats, such as print. Users can use a touchpad to scroll the content of different frames within the web page, or press the spacebar to instigate chance arrangements like a slot-machine, remixing word segments across frames to build something new and unexpected. By zooming in, it becomes a typographic form experiment. I love the sense of discovery how the framework can work with varying degrees of source content to generate everything from poetic abstractions to juxtaposed meaning—such as remixing marketing terms as social commentary. This project was selected for a Triennial Exhibition at RISD this fall.

IMG_3468-770x513Why is your course, Typography, important for my design education?

Typography is a necessary part of graphic design, but it is also a rich area of creativity and form-making in itself. To understand this, become savvy with the technical aspects of type and find one’s own inventive, expressive way of working with typography adds depth to your work as well as your way of looking at the visual world. It is also critical to a higher standard of design practice to be able to offer well-skilled, bespoke solutions to clients.

Kennedey-IMG_5209-770x770Do you have a sample assignment?

Assignments in this course will be focusing on the fundamentals of typography such as form, composition, history and context in graphic design. Students will also be researching the rich public space of Los Angeles and doing hands-on experiments that will bring out the unexpected potential of working with type. Both digital and hand crafting skills will be explored. Later assignments will focus on form and its relationship to conceptual content by designing a multi-faceted print project that addresses a contemporary issue, so students will get to merge new making skills with social engagement. I am super excited to see how we can work together to develop engaging work!

Welcome, Christina!

The Colors of the Flood: Joe Blaustein’s Photos of the Flood of the Arno

In November 1966, Florence, Italy experienced a catastrophic flood. The Arno River overflowed, killing over a hundred people and damaging thousands of priceless works of art.

Joe Blaustein, who teaches in our studio arts program, was living in Italy during the time of the flood. His color pictures, from the immediate aftermath, have been included in an upcoming book The Colors of the Flood. The book will be published shortly, but in the meantime, take a look at some images. Joe and his family are featured in the first one.

Congrats to Joe on this remarkable historical record, and his recognition from the city of Florence! You can see more information on the site The Florence Flood.

Flood 2Flood 1Flood 3 Flood 4

Hugh Kretschmer exhibition at Fathom

Kretchmer show

The retrospective will feature photographs from the inception of Hugh’s career, all the way through to last summer, accompanied by concept sketches and working Polaroids revealing his creative process, and will include a dappling of props and constructions from a few of his most recent shoots.

As a special treat, a few members of the poetry troupe from Get Lit will be performing a selection of their “spoken word” poetry, followed by a live auction of one of his photographs.

For more information and to RSVP, visit Fathom Gallery.

Oil Painting in the Style of the Venetian Masters

This fall, instructor Tom Garner is back with his unique and challenging course, Oil Painting in the Style of the Venetian Masters. The course is designed to introduce students to the academic tradition of Western art. Students paint a copy from a master, a portrait, and a live model. The instructor will mentor the students according their level of experience and artistic objectives. Students build artistic strengths in the time-honored spirit of the artists’ atelier.

Garner Portrait

Instructor Tom Garner


Garner Sample 2

Painting by instructor Tom Garner


Students in this course work hard, learn historic techniques, and produce some authentic and stunning final pieces. They are often featured in our student show.


Painting by student Rosemary Aguayo

Click here to see the course syllabus.

To bring to the first meeting:

1) Two canvas boards 16″ x 20″* toned with a wash of yellow ochre and a touch of burnt umber tinned with Gamsol (or turpentine) (see Amore.PDF for a sample view.) They must must be completely DRY for class time. If you don’t have enough drying time use acrylic paint thinned with water.

2) A couple of medium sized bristle Filbert brushes about #8 (1/2″).

3) oil paint: Lead or titanium white, burnt umber, and ivory black

4) A small painting palette

5) Gamsol (turpenoid)

6) pencil

This is for some initial exercises we will do the first day

During our orientation discussion I will go over the complete list of required and optional materials for this course.

*It is also a good idea to paint 2 or 3 coats of gesso over your canvas, sanding lightly between each coat. Store bought canvases are usually too rough (too much tooth) for our needs.

Garner sample

Painting by Tom Garner



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