The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Instructor worth a thousand words

Photography instructor trained by life

Allison Valenzuela | Staff Photographer
[email protected]

A 12-year-old girl with curly, dark hair pulls the “O” volume of the Collier’s Encyclopedia off the shelf. As she skims through the volume she stops to read whatever catches her interest. She comes across an extensive scientific article on “Optics.”

She’s hooked. She learns about how a rain drop can become a lens and how light bends. At the end of the article there is a reference to photography. She quickly grabs the “P” volume. As she learns how cameras and lenses work together, she practices the principles and theories on her instamatic camera.

City College photography instructor Marquita Plomer has been accumulating experience and life lessons in photography since she was a little girl living on her family’s horse ranch in New Mexico.

Plomer tended livestock and mended miles of fences when she first moved to the ranch, but because of a congenital heart condition, she couldn’t do the same manual labor as the rest of the family.

“It allowed me to participate with a real role,” Plomer says.

In Plomer’s last year of high school she was the school photographer responsible for the darkroom and training other young photographers.

“I would borrow the school camera sometimes and shoot film at home on the weekends of the ranch,” Plomer says.

She photographed the livestock and the family at work. After graduation Plomer spent one last summer with her grandmother, mother and younger sister on the ranch.

“It was really my last snapshot of that life now dissipating with the oncoming unstoppable wave of change,” Plomer says.
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Her mother was getting married to a cowboy in the fall and she was leaving for Las Cruces to start college.

“It was a transition that I did not make very gracefully.”

A recession in New Mexico left Plomer without a job. She had to leave college. Plomer moved to California to live with a distant relative just before she turned 21 and went to work for a family-portrait company called PCA International.

She traveled a lot, taking her studio with her.

“It was a lucrative job but the best value to me as a young person just getting started was the tremendous experience I gained in dealing with people.”

Eventually Plomer went to work for Sacramento commercial big shot Kent Lacin Media Services where she learned that, to be successful, he would have to develop a routine and lifestyle conducive to getting work done.

“Kent was very influential to me and my work in terms of demonstrating to me how the job of being an artist requires discipline, just like any other job.”

It is no surprise to find her teaching here at City College as one of the co-teachers for Assignment Photography led by Paul Estabrook.

“She’s very warm and friendly, and that, combined with her technical background, is the reason I wanted to bring her on staff,” Estabrook

“Photography has opened so many doors for me literally, and my gift with it seems to reside in a talent for helping others find their own unique voice and vision.

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