By Alice Meyering, Program Coordinator of Community & Contract Education

Shauna Murray is the kind of student we love. In Spring 2015 she registered for her first photography class at SMC Community Ed and was so inspired she continued to take classes, not only with us but also in the academic program on the main SMC campus.

Shauna Murray, Self Portrait. This image won “Best Lifestyle Photo” in the 2018 SMC Student Photo Show.

Three years later, she is just 10 academic units short of getting a Photography Certificate from SMC, she won an award in the recent Annual SMC Student Photo Show (“Best Lifestyle Photo”), and she is working in the photography field – collaborating with designers, brands, producers, stylists, creative directors and other photographers.

“If you had told me four years ago that I’d be a professional photographer now I wouldn’t have believed you,” Shauna told us. “I’ve been so grateful for the guidance and support I’ve gotten from SMC, both Community Ed and the academic program. It’s definitely changed my life.”

Shauna Murray photo, taken from the High Line in New York City

Shauna, who lives in Venice after having moved 10 years ago from Colorado, was working as the Communications Director for a music-and-arts-based nonprofit in Los Angeles when a friend of hers told her she was taking a photography class at SMC Community Ed.

Shauna jumped at the opportunity to join her friend because, though she said she cared deeply about the work her organization was doing, she found herself spending the majority of her time working on tedious projects when she really wanted to be out in the field doing more creative work.

“I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures,” she said, “mostly snapshots of friends and family, places I’ve traveled, everyday life, and I started posting more images on Facebook and Instagram. I was pleasantly surprised with the positive feedback I received. Social media provided a fun place to make art of the everyday and share it with others without taking myself too seriously. At some point though, I started to ask myself ‘why not take this a little more seriously?'”

Rooftop Wedding, photo by Shauna Murray

She got a DSLR digital camera – previously all her images were captured on her cell phone or a point-and-shoot camera – and registered in Larry Jones’ Basic Photography class.

She loved it so much she continued to take another four classes at Community Ed and also started taking courses in the academic program in Fall 2015. In 2017, she was presented with an opportunity to make a career change and follow her passion into the photography field.

“The SMC Community Ed and academic programs have been so great and I’ve gotten to learn so much from these instructors and their professional expertise,” Shauna told us. “I’ve really learned to look at things differently and compose an image and tell a story and think about lighting and other aspects. I learned to think like a photographer.”

Photo by Shauna Murray

She finds LA an ideal city in which to create images.

“I’m often inspired by my surroundings in LA, whether it’s the natural beauty of the coast, the mural-covered streets of the city or the diverse mix of people and cultures that converge here,” she said. “In Community Ed workshops with Ed Mangus I discovered new places right here in LA that I’d never explored before. I also rediscovered places I thought I knew well and I saw them in a new way, with a photographer’s eye.”

She continued, “Photography brings so much joy to my life and my goal is for that to come through in my work. As an English major undergrad at the University of Colorado at Boulder I learned to think like a storyteller, and that’s how I approach photography, too. Whether I’m working with a client to execute their vision, or working on a personal project, I love figuring out how to tell a story with my camera.”

Thank you, Shauna, for inspiring us as much as we have inspired you.

You can also follow Shauna Murray on Instagram and Facebook.

Inspired by Shauna’s story? Are you ready to experience our photography classes yourself. Register into Fall semester’s Basic Digital Photography & Intermediate Digital Photography today, and you could be experiencing an amazing transformation just like Shauna!

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