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

Photo credit: Nick Shockey /
A letter from the editor
February 6, 2024

Photography professor Paul Estabrook
Ctiy College photography professor, Paul Estabrook, poses for a picture outside of Rodda North Hall January 26, 2015 | Emily Foley | Photo Editor | [email protected]

Emma Foley | Photo Editor | [email protected]

Changing, adapting, and still learning

One dictionary definition of teaching reads as follows: “Teaching is an act to impart knowledge or skill.”

Professional photographer and City College photography professor Paul Estabrook would agree. For the 47-year-old FACT-CHECK AGE, he believes teaching is more than just enlightening a student’s mind.

In photography, Estabrook gets the chance to continue his career and help others build and achieve their success. He believes sharing ideas spreads ideas around and allows others to learn from them. Collaboration is a way to effectively teach skills.

Estabrook’s passion in helping students find their artistic career side has made a difference in many people’s lives.

“Paul Estabrook is my teacher from the very beginning and through my educational journey,” photography student Penelope Kahn says. “The positive learning environment he creates for his students is awesome because he encourages everyone to interact and learn from each other.”

Estabrook is always changing and adapting each year, and still learning as a teacher himself.

“Every semester, every student, it’s a little bit different because everyone brings something else to the classroom,” he says. “Watching students develop with getting better and growing into their creative selves, that’s what keeps me going.”

Estabrook has been teaching since 2002.

“I do things backward, and that’s just me,” he says. “If I did it any other way, it wouldn’t be what I wanted. I sought out my future, which is constantly changing.”

While racing in New Zealand for a profession cycling team, Estabrook says he was blown away by the landscape and became obsessive about getting the perfect shot. When he returned to print the image, the lighting was always overexposed.  So began a hint of Estabrook’s eventual connection to photography.

He says he left cycling because he could not get to where he wanted in the sport, so he came back to the States and went to City College to find a job. While working on his photography degree and shooting for the campus newspaper, Estabrook got hired at the Sacramento Bee and fell in love with photojournalism.

Collaboration and teamwork were important to Estabrook and one project that remains with him was creating The Sacramento Bee welder cover.

“We had to create these really elaborate type of Sacramento folks, who had to create their own experiences,” Estabrook says.

The image portrays a welder welding on a 4-foot wide Sacramento Bee oval, with sparks flying everywhere around a workshop.

“Finding someone to create the prop, finding the location and creating the picture,” he says, “putting all the elements together made this project memorable.”
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With commercial work it’s not all about having an artistic side. You are creating someone else’s vision through your eyes.

“That’s where the challenge is,” he says.

Though The Sac Bee was good, Estabrook says he could not turn his internship into a staff position, so he decided to head down the path of freelance photography and independent filmmaking.

One day a call came through. Estabrook was asked if he wanted to do commercial work photography.

“Absolutely had no interest in commercial photography whatsoever,” Estabrook says. “but I love taking pictures, collaboration and team work,”

Seeing the art director and people working together to create a digital vision, Estabrook fell face first into commercial photography.

“It found me. That was it, this was my career,” he says. “I make a living with photographing, but I like sharing. I always had one assistant around to share ideas with.”

The Bee would eventually became one of his main clients in commercial photography marketing.

Estabrook soon realized what his true calling was: teaching.

“With teaching you end up having 20 plus people you get to share with, and then you get to see where they go.”

It’s now much more interesting to Estabrook to help someone create an image then going out and doing it.

“I’ve known Paul for about 25 years,” City College photography professor Gordon Lazzarone says. “He’s a great teacher and is always very well-prepared. His enthusiasm for photography is evident.”

Estabrook wouldn’t argue with his colleague’s assessment.

“I have a fun job, if I ever really complain about it someone should hit me over the head,” Estabrook says.


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