Students from Joe Hannibal’s Introduction to Digital Photography class are learning not only the fundamentals, but also what it’s like to be an exhibiting artist.
The students have photographs on display somewhere they never have been before: at SchoolsFirst Credit Union in Huntington Beach. This is the first time a university has been invited to participate in the credit union’s art program.
Hannibal said the idea for the show came about in an informal way.
“My wife and I were saying to the branch manager how spectacular some of the student art [on display] was, and then my wife offhandedly said: ‘You should have some of Joe’s students’ work,’ and he said it was spectacular because they’d never had a college before,” he says. “Then he said, ‘We’d be privileged if you’d come and put some of your students’ work up.’ ”
The art was well received right away.
“We started putting them up and the tellers came over and said, ‘Gosh, these are good. Are you sure these are students?’ ” Hannibal says. “We had several kids who have sold work from the show.”
Hannibal says that in his final year of teaching at Cal Poly Pomona, he decided to change the way he teaches his intro class.
“For the first time, I forced them all to buy printers, and that has revolutionized the class,” he says. “Because instead of taking pictures and just seeing them on a screen, they’re making real, live photographs, so they’ve learned so much more.”
Instead of focusing on the technical side of photography, Hannibal challenges the students to think outside the box.
“You have to find what your uniqueness is and what your passion is, and follow it. And if you do, you’ll be a raging success. Life’s too short. The only way life becomes happy and fun is if you’re pursuing what you want to pursue,” he says. “So that’s what I teach, and that’s what I try to get them to pursue in their photography, start looking at the world differently, think outside the box, try to find new ways to express things, try to look deeper into things.”
The photo exhibit will run through Dec. 8 at the SchoolsFirst Credit Union branch at 7251 Warner Ave. in Huntington Beach.