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

Photography professor comes full circle

Photography professor Randy Allen works in the City College photography studio setting up lights for a shoot.
Photography professor Randy Allen works in the City College photography studio setting up lights for a shoot. || Allison Valenzuela || [email protected]

There is a cacophony of conversation going on in the next room. In the middle of the chaos is a man wearing a baseball hat, polo shirt and cargo shorts laughing raucously. Randy Allen is an adjunct photography professor here at City College.

“I feel very full circle-ish. I went to school here in ’80-’81,” Allen says.

Allen didn’t start out to be a photographer. During his teen years Allen and his friends would shoot Super 8 movies. They would write the scripts, act and film them.

“One day someone gave me a still camera, I loved the feel of the camera and the look of film stills,” Allen says.

From then on Allen preferred photography over movie making. Allen started his career as a newspaper photographer. Allen has worked for the Sacramento Union, Vacaville Reporter, The Sacramento Bee and a few other newspapers.

“As a reporter you can parachute into people’s lives,” Allen says.

Allen spent three days in a firehouse “pretending” to be a firefighter and spent time with a glider pilot.

“You can literally poke yourself into someone’s life,” Allen says, when asked about his career change from newspapers to teaching he attributes it to his mother.

“She told me I would make a good teacher,” Allen says.

Allen started teaching at City College while still working for The Sacramento Bee. Allen wanted to be sure that teaching was something he wanted to do. He was hired to teach intermediate photography by Paul Estabrook.

“Randy was my editor at The Bee. He taught me that you can be creative, weird and wild with your photography, as long as you bring me what I need,” says Estabrook. “To this day I try to teach my students what I learned from Randy. That is why I hired him here at City College. It is unique to find someone with talent and technical skills that also wants to teach.”

As it turns out, starting to teach while still with The Sacramento Bee saved Allen from a crash landing when his job at the Bee ended.

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Teaching, for Allen, is 1,000 percent different than reporting, but having the job with City College helped with the transition. Allen was able to pick up a few more classes to teach.

“I wasn’t sure what was going to happen when I lost my job, but teaching had turned a possible crash and burn into a landing on a nice big mattress,” Allen says.

Besides teaching, Allen and his son, Eric, have started a multimedia company called White Bay Pictures.

Eric is also Allen’s teaching assistant in Photo 380 Multi Media Capture. Eric helps students and refer to his father as Randy in class.

“I can’t really say, “Wait I’ll ask Dad” to the students I’m helping, so I call him Randy while in class,” Eric says.

Allen has spent many years in the media business.

“I’ve always felt that I started in this business at just the right time. Up until the 70’s journalism didn’t change much from the typewriter and the printing press,” Allen says.

Allen stepped into journalism at the tail end of black and white photography. Allen was there when they started using color in newspapers.

He watched the progression of change from film to the digital age. How newspapers are combining print with online technology is fascinating to Allen.

Working on newspapers, running his business and teaching are things that he enjoys.

They are not just jobs.

“My father always told me that if you do something you love it never feels like work,” Allen says.

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