David Brunn

Digital Photography

Photography Instructor
The Art Institute of Portland

David Brunn

What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional? 

When I was in high school, I was one of the winners in a Kodak national photography contest.

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience to provide an industry veteran's sense of the realities / challenges / opportunities of the profession?

I purposely put my experiences in the professional/art photography world into all my assignments. I try to make sure that all these assignments are relevant to the needs of the professional photography world at large. To do this, I visit and talk to a number of photography studios/businesses to find out what they feel is important for student photographers to know, so they can meet their needs when it comes to hiring new photography employees.

Is there a class assignment that exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring? Similarly, how does your approach inspire each student to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?

All my assignments are connected to each other. Every class that I teach builds upon the class that came before it. Some assignments are a higher level version of an earlier assignment, but all are made to be relevant to what the students will need to know, in order to survive in the photography world outside the classroom. All my assignments are updated and changed to meet the needs of the photography industry. This constant change to be relevant in photography is what I push my students to do in their careers. This is not an industry that will stand still. They will have to constantly update their knowledge/skills to meet the changing needs in the industries of photography.

What role does collaboration contribute to students' success, especially when students from other programs contribute to the same project?

Collaboration is one of the most important things I think we teach at The Art Institute of Portland. Very few people work in a vacuum in the professional world. There is not a program at The Art Institute of Portland that in some ways does not require the knowledge of photography and lighting. Photography students discover that students in other programs have some experience with or working knowledge of how photographers do their work. Fellow students are their future clients.

In your opinion, what is the single most important thing you impart to your students to help them succeed in your class and in the real world? Alternatively, what is the most critical advice you would offer any student as he / she embarks on a creative career?

To make a living doing what you want is a gift, a very rare gift. But to do that, you have to work hard, very hard. You have to work constantly at your profession. You will end up working on projects that you did not want to do as a student. When you have bills to pay and student loans to repay, no job is too terrible to do. When you first start out, you spend most of your time doing 80% of what you don’t want to do, so that you can do 20% of what you really enjoy doing. You spend your career trying to flip that ratio, so that, at the end, you are doing 80% of what you like to do and the other 20% pays too well not to do it.

Is there anything else you'd like us to know about you, your experience, or your role as a faculty member at The Art Institutes?

I love teaching photography at The Art Institute of Portland.