Alumni Spotlight: Jason Andrescavage

Jason Andrescavage is an alumni of the Photography Department at City College of San Francisco and earned a Masters Degree in Photography from Kingston University in London in 2014. He has been creating photographs for 10 years concentrating on traditional film and analog wet darkroom techniques. Jason also shares his knowledge at Harvey Milk Photo Center in San Francisco, CA where he teaches photography and darkroom techniques. See our interview with him below:


©Jason Andrescavage

Jason – how do you think the Photography Program at CCSF help prepare you for a masters program in photography?
I think the CCSF Program is a great first step on the road to a graduate degree because of the intensive technical courses on offer throughout the curriculum.  If you are willing to put in the time as a student, there is absolutely no limit to what you can accomplish there.  Between the facility and the amazing faculty I was always able to grow as an artist and a practitioner during my time there.  In addition to the technical courses, the artistic development classes, business courses, and comprehensive history curriculum I always felt like I was well prepared for a graduate-level education.

Was graduate school always your goal?
No!  I started at CCSF as a pure hobbyist looking to get some instruction and improve my photography.  It’s hard to understate how important my time at CCSF was in changing my mind in regards to photography as a profession and academic pursuit versus a pleasant pastime. The steady pace of advancing skills and knowledge through the curriculum was addicting and led me to want to continue on to the next level.


©Jason Andrescavage

What advice do you have for CCSF photography students wanting to continue onto graduate school?
PUT IN THE WORK!  The CCSF Photo Department as a resource is second to none, and someone who is truly serious about growing as a photographer would have no excuse not to exploit it to the fullest.  When I was a student at CCSF, I would frequently be at class or in the darkroom 4 nights a week, and Saturdays.  If I wasn’t at work or on location shooting photos, there was a good chance I was on campus.  And I was a part time student!  When I got to my Masters Program, I was already used to the serious work commitment required and I was able to enjoy the experience all the more thanks to the reduction in stress that meant for me.

©Jason Andrescavage

What made you focus on traditional film and darkroom techniques?
It wasn’t specifically a “film-vs-digital” choice to continue on with traditional film.  I started photography with an inexpensive 35mm SLR I bought on Ebay.  At the time, the first class in the CCSF Program was Photo51, and it was still a film-only course.  As I worked up through all the classes in the Program and became more competent behind the lens and in the darkroom, my style and choices evolved around the medium.  At some point, the look I got was so tied up in traditional wet photography that a digital practice just wasn’t an option for my personal work.  Since then I’ve gone even farther down that rabbit hole, shooting my most recent project with an 8×10 camera and paper negatives.

Do you have a go-to camera and lens?
I shot with a 35mm Leica R4 SLR for many years with the occasional medium format roll here and there.  Right before I went to grad school I bought a medium format camera for the work I would be doing there and have since then not shot any 35mm besides for backup purposes.  During my grad program in in the years since I have moved up to large format 8×10 for specific projects while doing my typical work in medium format.

The two cameras in my bag are:
-Hasselblad 500C with 80mm and 150mm lenses.
-AGFA Ansco 8×10 from old timey times with a newer Schneider 300mm lens.


© Jason Andrescavage

What is your main source of ideas or inspiration for your work?
It really depends on the project, but for the last few years inspiration for my large format project has come from early artist photographers such as Henry Peach Robinson and Julia Margaret Cameron, up through the Pictorialists- and especially California Pictorialist Anne Brigman.  My inspirations for my typical work include the works of Lillian Bassman, Dan Winters, Richard Avedon, and Tim Walker.

I don’t shoot socially-themed works, mostly concentrating on portraiture and themes that excite me within the world of photography, such as the interaction of photographer and subject.


© Jason Andrescavage

Finally – Do you have any advice for our film & darkroom students wanting to pursue fine art traditional photography?
Have a reason to use traditional wet photography and make it your own as a reflection of your artistic concepts.  Have the traditional process be as much of the “why” as the subject matter itself.  The fact is, the medium is a choice- make it an interesting one.

Working at a fine art practice is a difficult and your work may go unnoticed for a long time.  I’ve had many works dear to my heart get no attention at all when others are unexpectedly selected for exhibitions all over the place.  Work with a style and subject matter that excites you, and you will have the enthusiasm to constantly improve and evolve your work.

For more Jason Andrescavage:
Jason’s workshops and class offerings at Harvey Milk Photo Center

Alumni Spotlight: Bryan Sillorequez

Classes at CCSF Photography helped jump start Bryan Sillorequez‘s education at Brooks Institute of Photography where he received the Brooks Institute Achievement Award and his BFA. Since then, in addition to focusing on his own photography career, he has been working with top photographers and magazines and is now currently working at the Annie Leibovitz Studio in New York City.

© Bryan Sillorequez

We asked Bryan to share some his wisdom and experiences that helped him get to where he is now!

How do you think CCSF prepared you for art school?

There were a few classes that helped prepare me for art school. First were the beginner 101 courses and the film classes which helped me get familiar with Lightroom, manual settings, and composition. This helped me get advanced placement so I didn’t have to start at the beginning, saving thousands on tuition.  The lighting studio class prepared me for the basics on how to use studio equipment which I was able to build on and the view camera class helped me slow down and think about my images before I shot them.  I wouldn’t say you would need all these to transfer to an art school, but having done so gave me a helping hand.

© Bryan Sillorequez

What advice do you have for CCSF students wanting to transfer to an arts college?

My advice for CCSF students wanting to transfer to an arts college is to stop and think before you make the transition and ask yourself if this is the direction you would like to take.  If you’re motivated and you think that this is where you’d like to go, go for it.  Also research the art school that you want to go to.  Make sure it is the type of photography that you want to do.  If this is seen as a hobby, I would think long and hard since art schools are quite costly.

© Bryan Sillorequez

How is Assisting a professional like Annie Leibovitz different than being in school and what advice do you have for students wishing to assist after school?

Assisting a professional like Annie Leibovitz, you learn a lot from the other assistants and get to experience how a large budget photo shoot operates.  Learning from the Assistants, you learn many techniques that you may or may not learn in school.  There is also nothing like being on set.  It can be high stress or it can be the most chill day you’ll ever have, regardless that experience is something you don’t learn in school.

My advice for students wishing to assist after school would be to start assisting while you’re in school.  Once I transferred to Brooks, the first thing I did was look for assisting jobs and found one.  From there, I started getting recommendations to other people in Los Angeles and now I’m in New York.  It doesn’t matter if you have experience or not, just find someone who you can assists (anyone really) because there is always something you can learn from other photographers.  You don’t have to be done with school to assist.

© Bryan Sillorequez

Finally – what is a typical day for you like?

There is no such thing as a typical day nor a typical week in this business.  I find my hours to be sporadic and everything can change in a moments notice.  There have been many times where we had a day all planned out and sometimes a few minutes to a couple hours into the shoot everything changes and you just have to be flexible with whatever comes your way.

© Bryan Sillorequez
See more of Bryan Sillorequez’s beautiful photography:
Instagram: @bvs.dng

CCSF Photo Alumni – 81 Bees Exhibit

Presented by Mullen Brothers Imaging and the 81 Bees Collective

© Yelena Zhavoronkova

Photographs by the 81 Bees Photography Collective
March 3–April 14, 2016

Opening Reception
Thursday, March 3, 2016
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Facebook Event

Mullen Brothers Imaging
2040 Oakdale Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94124

The word minimalism was first used in the english language in the early 20th century to describe a 1913 painting by Kasimir Malevich of a black square on a white background. The term was referring not to what Malevich put into the piece but rather what he left out.
Similarly in other fields in the visual arts, music and architecture, the term has come to represent the concept of stripping everything down to its essential quality, getting rid of what is unnecessary.
This group of works is inspired by these concepts. Each artist has focused their lens on a subject, reducing it down to its essence and by removing the extraneous, creating a sense of clarity.

Anton Bulyonov, Aneta Cherykova, Mary Celojko, Samantha Cooper, Clare Coppel, Kristina Davis, Donna L. Dodd, Beatriz Escobar, Marsha Guggenheim, Avril McHugh, Maja Pilipovic, Bob Nishihira (Nish), Yon Sim, Gordon Szeto, Terri Watters, Yelena Zhavoronkova

Image Credit © Yelena Zhavoronkova
81 Bees on Facebook

Alumni Spotlight: “Materials of Survival – Designs for Living with HIV”

This is the first exhibition of the entire series, Materials of Survival in which artist, photographer and CCSF Photography student alumni, Grahame Perry explores the issues of HIV and long term survival. It’s comes from the personal and communal experiences of being a long term survivor and ties it into the broader ideas of illness, stigma, health and survival. The show grows out of several years of work. Throughout the exhibit, the power of the underlying issues and the struggle to survive are magnified by the scale of the printed images.

According to SF Camerawork which recently featured several pieces from the Materials of Survival series in their Long-Term Survivor Project show,
Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 12.34.36 PM” This ongoing body of work is a highly imaginative reconfiguring of the visual elements in the life of an HIV-positive survivor. Perry’s at times fantastical depictions of pills, bottles, prescriptions, vials, and other paraphernalia provide a colorful but poignant visual vocabulary with which the artist tells his own story of struggle, uncertainty, memory, and survival. Perry’s work playfully combines graphic and symbolic photographic elements in the creation of abstract images that represent the very real process of the artist’s own quest for meaning and strength in the battle against HIV”. 

In considering loss and employing similar strategies, Perry reconfigures the public examples of deaths from AIDS. Using thousands of obituaries, and panels from the Names Project, he creates two large works, Every AIDS Obituary and Healing Quilt. Perry also uses some images from his other series, “Am I Blue?”, self-portraits that address mourning and fear. Lastly, the exhibit considers the present day and how intimacy, activism, and our vision for the future are being reformulated and reimagined.

Coincidentally, the exhibition will be the first in Magnet SF’s new gallery in the new AIDS Foundation building on Castro Street. Because of the neighborhood’s centrality in the struggle against HIV/AIDS, it is especially important for the artist to have the exhibition occur in the heart of the Castro. Many long-term survivors have called the Castro and San Francisco home. This show attempts to address some of the issues for long-term survivors while also placing it in a location which is relevant for gay men negotiating the issues of sexual health today.

The exhibition will run through the end of November and may be viewed anytime during business hours (Mon-Tues 1-6, Wed-Fri 10-8, Sat 10-6).

Facebook Event:

Alumni Spotlight: Grahame Perry

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 9.18.28 PMGrahame Perry, CCSF Photography Department Alumni is in the upcoming group show at San Francisco Camera Work Long Term Survivor Project with artists Hunter Reynolds (New York), Frank Yamrus (New York .  He created some of his images on view while being a student at CCSF. The opening reception is June 4,2015 (details below).

San Francisco‐based artist Grahame Perry will present his series titled Materials of Survival. This ongoing body of work is a highly imaginative reconfiguring of the visual elements in the life of an HIV‐positive survivor. Perry’s at times fantastical depictions of pills, bottles, prescriptions, vials, and other paraphernalia provide a colorful but poignant visual vocabulary with which the artist tells his own story of struggle, uncertainty, memory, and survival. Perry’s work playfully combines graphic and symbolic photographic elements in the creation of abstract images that represent the very real process of the artist’s own quest for meaning and strength in the battle against HIV

LONG-TERM SURVIVOR PROJECT Grahame Perry, Hunter Reynolds, Frank Yamrus June 4 – July 18, 2015 Opening Reception: Thursday, June 4, 2015, 6 – 8 PM Public Programming:  PRESS RELEASE

In celebration of annual Pride month and in honor of National HIV/AIDS Long-Term Survivor Day (June 5th), SF Camerawork is proud to present the Long-Term Survivor Project. Taking place from June 4 – July 18, 2015, this is an exhibition and public programing series addressing the experiences of HIV survivorship in our society. The exhibition features the work of artists Hunter Reynolds (New York), Frank Yamrus (New York), and Grahame Perry (San Francisco). The associated public programming includes two nights of documentary photography-based projects and roundtable discussions: Portrait of Caring: Living With AIDS at the Bailey-Boushay House by Saul Bromberger and Sandra Hoover on June 10th, and The House of Bangy Cunts: Kiki Ballroom in New York by Anja Matthes on July 14th. As a whole, the Long-Term Survivor Projectexplores the history of AIDS, the current state of health, diagnosis and treatment of HIV, and the more personal, humanistic stories of those living with the past and present realities of the disease.

Alumni Spotlight: Alex Ramos Director of Leica Gallery in SF, CA

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 4.47.08 PM

Alex Ramos, Former CCSFer is the Gallery Director at the new Leica store in SF, CA.

To people who remember film and darkrooms and heavy manual cameras, Leica has always been the coolest, like Triumph motorcycles, and the BMW 2002.

The machines were built to last and just to prove it, against the onslaught of the iPhone, Leica has opened a store and gallery on Bush Street, to the side of Union Square.

The store is done in the red of the Leica logo and red-brick, and the black-and-white of gelatin prints that display the richness of detail Leica is known for.  The gallery, which runs the length of the store on the brick wall, will showcase works of the famous Leica shooters, which includes about everybody who made a war picture through Vietnam…to read more,click here

Leica Gallery San Francisco is at 463 Bush St.  Hours are Monday through Friday, 10-6 and Saturdays 10-4.  

NOW SHOWING “The Beautiful Cliche” by Renato d’Agostin

[vimeo width=”600″]

Student Spotlight: Wez Ireland

Time Traveling to Cuba

Photo Essay by Wez Ireland

Primary school children on their way to class in Trinidad. Trinidad was founded in 1514. The older parts of town are well preserved as the Cuban tourism industry benefits from tour groups. In contrast, other parts of town outside the downtown districts are very run down and in disrepair.

Primary school children on their way to class in Trinidad. Trinidad was founded in 1514 and has been accredited as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The older parts of town are well preserved as the Cuban tourism industry benefits from tour groups. In contrast, other parts of town outside the downtown districts are very run down and in disrepair.

Photo Essay by Wez Ireland

It was only a matter of time before my wife took me to visit her native land, Cuba. As a British national, I didn’t have to worry about the way Americans must navigate when trying to enter their Caribbean island neighbor.  At the closest point, Cuba lies just 92 miles south of Florida. Still, from the moment we disembarked, I couldn’t shake the feeling that we’d made a journey back in time.

We planned an action-packed trip over nine days. Starting in the capital, Havana, to visit extended family, we bussed cross-country to Santiago, the country’s second city, over 500 miles away.

We made several stops, including the central city of Trinidad, a UNESCO World Heritage site founded in 1514.

In the downtown of Trinidad life bustles around grand, stone buildings erected when Cuba was a stopping point for the Spanish en route to the Central and South American mainland, years before the legendary clash between Cortez and Montezuma, and a century before the first British colonies in the New World.

In Las Tunas, at the bus station, my wife and I chatted with a man who unabashedly described himself as a pimp from Havana, touring the countryside to recruit workers.  He directed our attention to a suitcase stocked with designer jeans, cologne, electronics and other sundries for sale, beaming with entrepreneurial gusto.

Cuba is a time when: children can walk to school by themselves in the morning, and play on the street until the sun goes down… people reap what they sow. Sharecropping is a common pastime, securing nutrition for families and fodder for trade… elders are queried for wisdom and stories that have passed through generation

University students return from School on the streets of Santiago de Cuba. Neighbors gather in the parks and kids play in the streets until the sun goes down.