Snapshot: New Photography Professor
Reported by Jen Wright
Adam Long, the new assistant professor of Art and Design at George Fox University (GFU) specializing in photography, and he’s still moving in. Cardboard boxes full of art books and camera equipment sit stacked in every corner of his office, and soft ‘rainy-day’ rock plays from the radio sitting on his desk.
Long has an established career in photography, and has both put on and juried numerous shows. Long holds a bachelor’s degree in Studio Arts and a Masters of Fine Arts in Photography. He has taught photography for 13 years at community colleges and four-year universities, most recently the University of Kansas. Long was born in Washington state, so returning to the Pacific Northwest is like coming back home.
He aims to teach photography as an art “from the core,” and is focusing on getting away from mainstream photography.
“Students’ ability to ‘un-learn’ the photographs that they know, it’s a challenge,” Long said. “Once they open their eyes to what else photography could be…[there are] a lot more personal pictures.”
Long always tells his students the same thing: “It’s the easiest thing on earth to repeat what you already know, but then you’re not really learning anything that way.”
One of the things that drew Long to GFU is the integration of faith and learning. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Azusa Pacific University, a private Christian university in Azusa, California.
Long loves talking with his students about things that happen inside and outside the classroom as well as encouraging them to integrate their faith into their work.
“For me, it provides a different version of that conversation that I haven’t been able to really participate in before,” Long said. “After you do something for ten years, you kind of have some reservations about what you have been able to do in the classroom and what you’re now able to do in the classroom.”
“I do hope to make a dent and make [my students] consider how important they are in this whole machine of a world,” Long said. “Even if our interactions are brief, they can still be pretty poignant and point us in direction about thinking about one another.”
Calling himself a “street photographer,” Long prefers the personal aspect of photography, taking portraits of people he meets walking around the city.
“That kind of physical connection with people that a portrait can do, especially if it’s on a whim, tells somebody that they matter, that they’re important and that their story is important.”
Long hopes to help his students form a strong foundation for photography, both working with actual film and digital cameras.
“When I’m able to connect with somebody else, that’s pretty life-giving for me,” Long said. “All I’m doing is recording them, but at the same time it’s validating them.”
He is partial to physical film and the mystery surrounding the revolving darkroom door in the GFU post office. “I think it’s like a little secret,” Long said.
Long currently teaches beginning photography, with an intermediate course to be taught in the spring.