News from Montgomery College

900 Hungerford Drive, Suite 200, Rockville, MD 20850 

Date: June 20, 2002 (02-33)
Contact: Dave Willingham, 240-567-7970; Pager: 301-930-0972
              Steve Simon, 240-567-7952

Montgomery College Arts Master Classes Begin
Master Photographers Inaugurate Series

         It might have been a scene from the heyday of Ansel Adams, as a huge, old-fashioned looking view camera—the kind that sits on a big tripod and has a long bellows—complete with darkcloth, appeared on the scenic banks of Rock Creek earlier this month.

Actually, it was part of the first-ever Montgomery College Arts Institute Master Class series.  The world-renowned husband-wife photography team of Michael A. Smith and Paula Chamlee held forth, putting 17 Montgomery College students through a demanding four days of instruction in large format black and white landscape photography.

Smith and Chamlee call their program “Vision and Technique,” with Smith declaring the real objective to be personal growth.  “You have to photograph what you don’t know,” he says.  “You have to go beyond your first reaction” in searching for a higher level of the art.

Chamlee, who has been featured in a number of high-quality photography books, says she and her husband “try to give students something concrete that they can take away.” 

It’s working, says student Linda Mann of Germantown, as she examines numerous creekside views through the giant camera, “It has been stimulating.  They’ve taught us to see things we didn’t see before.”  

Montgomery College Professor Brian Jones, who presided over the Rock Creek Park lesson from a picnic table vantage point, heads up the master classes in photography.  He says the College already has one of the strongest photography programs in the Mid-Atlantic region and “we want to make a good thing even better,” with the master classes. 

The Smith-Chamlee program launched the first initiative of the Arts Institute, a permanent master class series for all of the arts at Montgomery College.  Four more photography master classes will follow, as will others in music and theatre.  Initial financing was provided by a $40,000 grant from the Webber Family Foundation.  

“Through this initiative, students and faculty will have unparalleled opportunities to work and learn alongside master artists, musicians, actors and other exceptional arts professionals,” says James L. Brown, Montgomery College art professor and interim director of the Arts Institute.  “The master classes will significantly widen a student’s exposure to evolving techniques, theories, concepts, and professional practices in the arts.”

For more information on the Montgomery College Arts Institute and the master classes, call Professor Brown at (240) 567-7644.  A complete view of Montgomery College’s offerings and opportunities is available at

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