A Q&A with photography professor Darilyn Rowan on the photo exhibition ‘Step Outside the Everyday’


“Watermelon Legs” was shot by Linda Detwiler Burner, who is the curator and has been the club president of the South Bay Camera Club for the past two years. Photo credit: Jack Kan

CORRECTION 5/21/18: In the featured photo’s caption, Linda Detwiler Burner’s name was spelled incorrectly. The Union regrets these errors.

Photography professor Darilyn Rowan has taught at El Camino College for 29 years. She spoke with The Union about the Schauerman Library’s newest photography exhibition “Step Outside the Everyday,” an exhibition containing art taken by members of the South Bay Camera Club (SBCC).

What initially sparked your interest in photography?

ROWAN: My interest in photography actually began as a high school journalist. I was the managing editor of my high school newspaper and I wrote for my high school newspaper and I developed a real passion for journalism, I took journalism in high school but I began as a writer. I also had an interest in all areas of the arts, visual arts and art history as well as studio art and visual art and I took a class in photography when I was in college and right away knew that it was something I wanted to pursue.

What is your affiliation with the South Bay Camera Club?

ROWAN: In the spring of 1992 I organized the first annual student photography exhibition here at El Camino College. I began a tradition of a yearly exhibition of student photographs in the lobby of the college library and several of my students were members of the SBCC. The SBCC is one of the oldest continuously operating camera clubs in the country. It meets twice a month at the Torrance Airport Administration Center. They actually have a website that you can look up. Several of my students at El Camino College in my early years of teaching were members of the SBCC and officers in it. I was invited during my first few years (of teaching) to lecture at the SBCC. I went as a part of community outreach and I went and did a critique of members work so over the years, about every two or three years I would go and give a critique or lecture to the SBCC and encourage our students to participate. I would always notify the camera club about our spring exhibitions and some of them came to our receptions. I began to encourage them to have an exhibition of their own here. About four years ago, I went to the camera club and made an announcement about that the library was accepting applications for exhibitions for the following year. I brought an application for them and they submitted it and they were awarded their first show here. Every spring or summer they have an exhibition of member’s work that involve everything from black and white to color, there have been film photographs, digital photographs. But my affiliations was really as a professor here to support the organization and to encourage our students to participate. My affiliation was really as a representative of the college encouraging community participation.

Do you know an overall concept of what the artist wanted the audience to see with their photography?

ROWAN: I think the exhibition reflects the idea that learning photography can teach you to see without a camera and that the process of photography can encourage a person to explore the beauty and mystery in our everyday lives. I think the title reflects the goal of the photographers to take a look at the beauty and mystery of the natural world that we all live in everyday and I think they have done it brilliantly. In particular there are photographs that reflect close up details of the natural world so it’s not the way we normally see that object. A dandelion appears very large in a close up of it so we see the detail and the beauty and the mystery of that. One of my favorite pieces is the photograph by Roberto Reid (“Egret with reflection beauty”). That photograph stands out to me because even though it’s in color it’s very monochromatic with the white of the bird against that dark mysterious background and the beautiful reflection of the bird in the water. There are many beautiful pieces but that one stood out to me in particular.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

ROWAN: The SBCC allows anyone interested in photography including professionals, fine arts photographers, and amateurs to be part of a community of gifted and welcoming photographers. I’m bringing all of my photography classes here to the library to see the show because I feel it’s an excellent opportunity to add examples of photography from the real world to their educational process. I think it’s a wonderful educational tool for the photo classes and the art classes here but also it’s a wonderful opportunity for students in the library or passing through to see high-quality photographic art. I think that the work reflects to me as I said earlier that learning photography can teach you to see the world without a camera as well as with a camera.

The exhibition “Step Outside the Everyday” will end on Friday, June 1 and is available for viewing in the Schauerman Library’s Lobby.