Photography alumna Kelsey McClellan distinctly remembers the high expectations set by her CCAD professors.
“They always reinforced in class, ‘If you don’t want to be doing your art, then go do something else. If this isn’t the most important thing to you, why are you here?'”
That attitude has propelled the 2012 grad to early success in her career as the one-woman force behind the photography and videos at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, a Columbus-based, national company that has become a sensation for its daring ice cream flavors and distinctive design aesthetic.
“It’s cool to be in the midst of development [at Jeni's],” McClellan said. “I don’t think I could be doing anything else.”
McClellan is one of many CCAD alumni who find themselves in the same position—in love with their work as photographers. From commercial and journalistic photography to series-based artistic work, our alumni are on trend and in the spotlight.
McClellan got her first taste of commercial photography in college as an intern at the clothing store Anthropologie. She did a second internship at Jeni’s, where she would later accept a full-time position.
“Internships are incredibly important because that’s how I got my job,” McClellan said.
After more than two years as the visual lead at Jeni’s, McClellan said she wears several different hats on any given day.
“I’m not always doing the same thing,” said McClellan, who in addition to shooting also has a hand in conceptualizing new campaigns and designs for Jeni’s 16 scoop shops around the country. “I could be shooting in the kitchen or shooting really styled, finished ice cream shots. It’s fun.”
While cameras and photo editing tools continue to become more readily available and user friendly, McClellan has learned that commercial food photography requires more than just a camera and a pretty scoop of ice cream.
“Anyone can use their camera phone, but not everyone can make a great image through styling or composition,” she said. “The technical side isn’t as important as the ambiance, the mood, the emotion of the food.”
Chad Hunt, Photography alumnus (CCAD 1994) and winner of the 2013 Alumni Award for Excellence, has felt a shift in photography, too—especially with the advent of the iPhone.
Hunt noted in an article for IMAGE magazine, “The current iPhone has a higher screen resolution than the first digital camera I shot with that cost $5,000. You can find photographers much easier now, too. Sometimes it’s hard to stand out in that world.”
But Hunt continues to stand out in the world of journalistic photography, thanks to his personal style, discerning eye, and ability to assign meaning to the world through a single photo.
His best-known photographs capture soldiers in war-torn Afghanistan, where he was embedded with American troops, as well as the dramatic, on-edge environment in which they live every day. Hunt’s work has also taken him to Haiti to capture images for the World Wide Orphan Foundation.
Advancing technology and more accessible cameras are all good things to Manjari Sharma, a 2004 Photography alumna who calls herself a “gadget freak.”
“The shift I see is that photography is getting freed of its technical connection,” Sharma said. Anyone can call themselves a photographer now that equipment is more affordable and accessible, she added.
Still, like McClellan and Hunt, Sharma’s artistic vision drives her personal work and continues to earn her international recognition.
Photos from her emotion-filled Shower series appeared on billboards in 19 different Indian cities and were featured on CNN’s photo blog.
More recently, Sharma’s Darshan series, which recreated nine classical images of Hindu gods and goddesses, appeared in photo exhibitions, Yoga Journal, and The Huffington Post.
Even with such personal success, Sharma’s advice to budding photographers is simple: “Be true to yourself. The best photography advice would apply to a human being even without a camera.”
Duncan Snyder, CCAD Photography chair, said the CCAD program intentionally equips students with a working knowledge of their resources, an ability to adapt, and an understanding of the bigger picture.
“[Photography] is a lifelong learning thing,” Snyder said. “It’s all about coping with change. That’s why good [photographers] are resilient.”
Tags: alumni news, Alumni Newsletter December 2013 Issue, Chad Hunt, class of 1994, class of 2004, class of 2012, duncan snyder, faculty & staff news, IMAGE magazine, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, Kelsey McClellan, Manjari Sharma, photography
The alumni newsletter is published four times a year and features the latest news and information for the alumni of Columbus College of Art & Design.