Photography is changing faster than any other art form at MECA. The way we teach it, however, isn’t. Vision, technique, style, point-of-view - it's the same whether you’re shooting on film or digital. It comes down to one sixtieth of a second. The knowledge, intuition and skill that precede the snap of the shutter make all the difference. You'll learn how to create concepts and tell stories that captivate your audience. You’ll master framing, editing and sequencing and have your images hung in our campus galleries. You’ll shoot, burn, dodge, scan and print until you've got work that defines who you are as an artist with a camera.
The son of artists and collectors, Kirchoff has an interest in images both as a form of communication and as objects. His respect for the integrity of the medium is an important value he instills in his students at Maine College of Art. Kirchoff shows his work nationally, his work is in the collection of The Addison Gallery of American Art, The Center of Creative Photography in Colorado, Fidelity Investments and numerous private and corporate collections.
MFA, Massachusetts College of Art
BFA, Maryland Institute College of Art
Photography Faculty - Justin Kirchoff
Robert Diamante '93
Robert Diamante is a fine art photographer who has also built a successful commercial photography business in Portland, Maine. He is known for photographing the work of jewelers and ceramicists, providing images to be used for promotional collateral such as advertisements, postcards, articles, web sites and portfolios. His photographs have been published in Lapidary Journal, Ornament magazine, American Style and other publications.
As an exhibiting artist, his photography for the past several years has focused on his interest in still life compositions, and his work has been exhibited in numerous galleries, including the Contemporary Art Museum in Baltimore, The Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockport and Turtle Gallery in Deer Isle. In 2007 his work was featured at Whitney Art Works in Portland, as part of a three-person exhibit called “Still,” which explored contemporary issues through traditional still life compositions, and he has a solo show planned for Providence City Hall in Rhode Island in October.
Robert’s artistic education began at a very early age -- at four years old a neighbor (currently a graphic designer) taught him how to draw and do cartwheels. “This kind woman kick-started my creative juices and I never forget that,” he says. His education continued with “great art teachers, guidance counselors and friends who helped me channel my creative energy during my early development.” He went to high school in Houston, where exposure to the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Contemporary Art Museum and The Rothko Chapel provided both influence and inspiration.
In 1989 he moved to Maine to attend what was then called Portland School of Art and what is now called Maine College of Art (MECA). Besides the development of creative skills essential to Robert’s business, such as color, design, and composition, he says, “It was then that I developed the self-discipline required of a self-employed artist. I began my business while still in school and worked supplemental jobs for three years until my business was secure enough to allow me to go it alone!”
Tim McCreight, a jewelry designer, former MECA professor, author and owner of Brynmorgen Press in Portland, was an instrumental mentor who helped Robert create a niche in the craft jewelry world. In fact, several of Tim’s books, such as Design Language: Interpretive Edition and Metals Technic feature Robert’s photography.
Robert says he uses his creative skills every day for his art, and for his business. “Taking three-dimensional objects and converting them into small two-dimensional rectangles can be very difficult,” he says. He also likens his business career to the creative process itself, referring to his business as “a breathing entity that requires the same energy required of making art: being attentive to possibilities and making decisions.” He says he applies all the devices and skills he utilizes when making art to his business. He has a creative approach to his clients as well, not only documenting their work, but also helping them utilize technology that will support their small cottage industries.
Robert has never stopped learning, taking classes in marble sculpture, anthropology, blacksmithing, fiction and poetry since his graduation from MECA. He is currently earning a Master’s degree at the Bangor Theological Seminary and is a board member of the Maine Crafts Association and a public member serving on the Contemporary Arts Committee at the Maine Arts Commission. He has appeared before numerous groups, from high school students in Penobscot to artists in Portland, to discuss his photography work and his role as an advocate for the arts in Maine.
What are some of the career paths for someone who majors in Photography?
Exhibiting Fine Art Photographer, many go on to Graduate School, Commercial Photographer, Curator, Editorial Picture Editor, Film Maker.
How do you prepare your students for the real world?
We critique them with blunt honesty. The school has embedded in the curriculum opportunities to apply for shows, take commercial photography courses, create professional web sites. There is a class called professional practices. Every class prepares them for the “real world.”
What are some examples of what your alums are doing?
We have two alums finishing thesis work at Columbia College, and Mass Art this year. We have had students attend Yale as well. We have an alum operating a successful portrait and wedding business in the Caribbean Islands. We have had alum show at the Museum of Modern Art. Many students work in commercial studios or other art/media based businesses. Often students start their own professional studios. We have a student teaching art therapy at a Psychiatric hospital in New Jersey.
What are the prerequisites to major in Photography?
PH101, PH102 or permission of Departmental Chair
What unique skills do your students get?
Students taking photography classes at Maine College of Art gain skills to develop, edit and sequence a self-directed body of work and articulate their ideas within both a historical and contemporary context. Students bridge lessons learned in foundation level classes and apply how they can be used with any camera frame. From 3D design they harvest the knowledge of how light, surface, and form create spatial relations. The culmination of these processes fosters a solid photographic proficiency and literacy that enables students to have many options available to problem solve formal and conceptual concerns, to express their ideas, emotions and beliefs.
Will I be able to incorporate other media or interests with my work as a Photography major?
Yes, film making, design, printmaking, sculpture, performance, digital media, audio.
What are your facilities like?
We have "wet darkrooms" for printing from film which include enlargers for 35mm, medium and large format negatives as well as equipment for mural printing. In addition to our two group darkrooms (one for beginners and one for advanced users), we also have an individual darkroom. For camera equipment, there is an assortment of Digital SLRs, 35mm, medium and large format cameras, all are available for checkout to students enrolled in Photography classes. Our digital output lab includes a range of large format Epson printers, 27" iMacs, and both drum and flatbed scanners.
What are some examples of internships your students have done in the past?
Russell French Photography, Macomber Inc., The Bakery Photographic Collective, Discovery Channel.
How many students (juniors and seniors) do you typically have in your major?