A class visit from photo editor Rick Sforza

Rick Sforza shows what he carries on assignment

By the time we hit college age, the last thing we want is to listen to another lecture.

Why else do you think we want to go away for college? Freedom and escape from parental lectures!

In college, I was a glutton for punishment.

Actually I paid my own way, so I was hell-bent on getting my money’s worth.

Photo editor Rick Sforza finds he is often shooting breaking news because he is short staffed. His picture in the background shows a San Bernardino police officer jumping from a pursuit suspect’s burning car Friday September 16, 2011. after moving the vehicle away from gas pumps. The pursuit, that started in Redlands, ended at a gas station at the corner of University and Hallmark Parkways in San Bernardino.

I never passed up a chance to hear a guest speaker, someone who was in an industry in the real world, especially if they were a photographer.

It didn’t matter what kind of photographer the guest speaker was.

Whether their genre or specialty was advertising, commercial, fine art or news photography, I was there early to get the best seat in the house.

And I was there with my list of questions.

That’s why I feel my students will always benefit from such exposure.

It doesn’t matter one bit if they are in an introductory photography class.

Having that person there ‘live’ can have a profound effect.

Something worth noting was this: my photojournalism professor Charlie Brill had access to more professionals than the other photography instructors who were academicians who only taught, but never worked in the industry.

He never felt threatened by his guest speakers.

Even ones who had greater skill than him or those who might share views about photography contrary to his.

If he did, he must have placed his students’ interest above his own insecurity.

Rick Sforza

My friend Rick Sforza, Photo Editor of 3 newspapers in our area, the San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and Redlands Daily Facts paid my class a visit.

He brought some of the photo gear and also a portfolio of images to share with my students.

He amazed them with breaking news photography, illustrations, and even personal projects featuring his son on his iPhone.

Some of the wisdom that Rick shared :

  • Projects–everyone should have a few projects or themes that they continually shoot for
  • Shoot for yourself–assignments for work or instructors are necessary but coming home with an image for yourself is just as important
  • Even if no one likes your picture, it doesn’t matter. It’s all subjective. “Frame that picture and keep it in your room”
  • You don’t need a degree in photography. It’s preferable in fact if you major in something else. The idea here is photography as a major can make you a one-dimensional.
  • Having a broad general knowledge is important because as photographers, we will need to converse intelligently and engage others whenever we take their pictures.
  • Take pictures daily. Rick’s says “I take a picture daily with my iPhone”
  • Not all the pictures he takes make it into print. Most of the time, these images go into his wonderful blog.


Rick Sforza Visit

Peter Phun Photography

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6 thoughts on “A class visit from photo editor Rick Sforza”

  1. RIck,
    You were so generous with your time. I think all the students really enjoyed your presentation.

    Now, my cyber-friend Jo, who lives all the way in India, knows about your blog too.

    Looking forward to another visit, RIck.

  2. Peter,
    Thank you so much for having me in your class recently. It was great to see you and great to know you’re out there sharing the wealth of photographic experience, knowledge of passion for our craft!

  3. Hi Jo,
    It’s always great to hear from you. Yes, Rick’s blog is an interesting mix or personal and often interesting work related photography posts. Your new website looks awesome as I’ve already thought you, I’m sure. I was wondering if you’ve added that wonderful TED presentation you gave some place. It would be an easy thing to do. If it is, you should make more prominent and easier to find. It was that good, that’s why.

  4. Hello Melody,
    So very kind of you to take the time to read and comment on my blog.

    I am merely passing along what I’ve picked up over my career. While I”m not quite ready to give it up, sharing what I know has made me a much more accomplished photographer.

    When I teach especially at the college, I have to remind myself not everyone in the class has aspirations to be a pro. But it doesn’t hurt to make it fun so that they at least enjoy the experience of being in my class.

    Since you are a fan of my FB page, you should get updates and you will know when I offer my classes. Next one will be on a Saturday.

    Thank you so much Melody.

  5. I really appreciate your teaching style. I learned so much in the two days that you substitute taught for my class. I wish I would have been able to go to your workshop. Hopefully next time. I look forward to being your student in the future. Thank you.

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