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Lights! Cameras! Catalogs! Program preps photographers for digital challenges of tomorrow's work force


February 10, 2004

Among the first signs of the approaching winter holiday season is the assortment of catalogs that start jamming your mailbox immediately after Halloween. Slick, colorful and creative, the catalogs are filled with vivid photos, created by a new breed of commercial artist: the digital photographer.

Learning the skill of commercial studio digital photography are Graphic Information Technology students at Arizona State University's Polytechnic campus. Working in a professionally equipped photography studio, they are preparing for careers in a changing field that requires expertise in a variety of graphic communication technologies, including Web site development, multimedia, and digital photography.

"There is considerable technology behind digital photography; it's not just 'point and shoot,' " said Penny Ann Dolin, lecturer in the Department of Information Management Technology. "Students learn about lighting, image conversion, resolution, color management of images, and output to print or Internet media.

"They are preparing for the new future of photography, combining time-tested lighting and shot production with advanced digital techniques."

Graduates of the program will join the massive printing industry, which in 2001 employed 1.2 million people and recorded sales of $160 billion. They will provide the digital photography not only for printed catalogs and advertisements, but also for online shopping and commercial Web sites, selling everything from CDs to automobiles.

At present, the GIT studio is supplied with digital cameras and accessories loaned by a national vendor. However, the equipment must be returned by the end of the academic year, effectively dismantling the digital photography lab. With no funds allocated to purchase these items, donors of equipment or funds to purchase cameras are needed.

Corporate sponsors can promote their products to future leaders in digital photography, and can, along with individual donors, have the opportunity of naming the digital photography lab.

"Graphic information companies who use digital photography are having difficulty finding employees with adequate skills," said Dolin. "We have the challenge and opportunity now to increase the pool of qualified students entering our local workforce in one of the industry's fastest growing segments: commercial digital photography."

If you have an interest in supporting GIT students with a donation of equipment or funds, please contact the ASU's Polytechnic campus Development Office at 480 727-1843. Students will promise to keep your mailbox festive.