The accidental, slightly reluctant educator by Helen Arase

The University of La Verne needed someone to teach a few photography courses. Well, they needed three professors’ worth of classes to be taught since the chair, the only other full-time professor and the senior-most adjunct professor all left the university.

The committee to replace the chair didn’t find anyone so the interim chair, Morgan, and the now senior-most adjunct instructor, Art, asked me if I would consider teaching.

Talk about being blind-sided by a different career path…

My resume and transcripts were expedited through the department and straight to the dean since it was the week before the semester started.

Because I have big doses of self-doubt at times I asked Art if I got the job because I was qualified or if it was because I knew most of the department. And I’m so relieved that he said my name came up because they knew who I was but it was because I was qualified with experience in the areas of photography, and that the dean was the one who made the hiring decision after Art passed along my unofficial “application.”

I put application in quotations because I really didn’t apply for the job - it was offered and slammed through the process.

So now I’m teaching a documentary photography course. It’s an independent study-type of schedule and format, and I have two students. I’m cleared to advise the photography staff/teach photojournalism courses in the spring if I want.

The great thing about the format of this semester’s class is that it doesn’t really get in the way if I freelance or get another job because there isn’t a set schedule, and it’s longterm, student-driven coursework.


I am actively applying for jobs in the field of journalism. ULV knows this and the photo department faculty are supportive of me following my dream.

I want to be a journalist so badly that it hurts. I’ll do any medium and cover any beat. There have been some open positions for stuff like community or cops beats. Breaking news sounds exciting. Getting out into the community sounds exciting.

And if I got a job that was writing or something with less traveling I could get to know the community by going out and photographing. It wouldn’t have to be for the outlet or anything but just so the community would get to know who I am and I would get to know them too.

For now though I’m treading water and trying to stay productive, creative and journalistic. I went to USC to learn more skills for practical application in the field, and I intend to use them.

On the hunt by Helen Arase

The last couple of weeks have been both interesting and boring. 

My sister graduated from her master's program with a Magistrate in Philosophy from Concordia University in Montreal - so we all went to Montreal.

I thought it was pretty cool that they had genderless degrees, and I'll admit I never considered that master or doctor were "male" so it's cool that Sophie was able to pick if she wanted to be a master or magistrate. 

So we all flew over there, ate poutine and flew back. 

I shot an assignment around the same time and got the selects back this morning so I'll be doing that today.

from the Santa Monica Kiwanis Club's Make a Mess Day

from the Santa Monica Kiwanis Club's Make a Mess Day

That was the more exciting of the last month. 

I'm job hunting still, yes, but that's not really what I mean by my title today... I'm on the hunt to make myself better and seek out education, opportunity and risks.

When I graduated college and was not working full-time (I guess I've been brought up to consider myself unemployed unless it's full-time but we're not going to unpack that here) I was in a bad place. 

I definitely wallowed in self-pity, but there was genuine self-hate, and the more I sat around with my thoughts of how much I must suck the less motivated I got.

This time around I'm being more proactive. You know, hindsight, 20/20...

I've gone to a journalism mixer, reaching out to people or mutual contacts - which I would never have done before - thinking about the kinds of workshops I can take; I'm not just applying for jobs or whatever from behind a computer. 

It's a weird feeling for me to have confidence. Or like, to be able to show someone my work and not have disclaimers about what I would have done or here's what happened, but to just think that it was my best work. 

For my documentary website, there's a small disclaimer that I'm not a web developer so you have to view it on Chrome but that's because I want you to get the full experience of the material and not frustrated that my coding didn't transfer 100% to all browsers. You know?

Anyway, back to work...

Master Helen, other thoughts by Helen Arase

I realized I haven't blogged since I was looking for lowriders.

Well... the short version is something worked out, I have a photo series and documentary and a Master of Science in Journalism.


These are a few photos of building lowriders and cruising lowriders.


For half of graduation day, May 11, it was acceptable to call me Master Helen.

This was the only photo I took of myself the whole day... Laura Bouzari just got hired as a producer in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

This was the only photo I took of myself the whole day... Laura Bouzari just got hired as a producer in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Now the real work begins. I need work. Not for the money (I do need money, because student loans), but I'm saying I need work to feel productive and happy.

I had a freelance assignment yesterday. It was kids doing arts and crafts, organized by Santa Monica's Kiwanis Club and Kiwanis International. It was cool to go out and spend some time with people who are creating and happy while you're working. I'm sunburnt now, though.

I've applied to jobs all over the country.

I'm just as excited to work at a larger newspaper or organization as a smaller one. I think all communities deserve quality journalism and people who are excited about finding the news in their neighborhoods. If you don't come from that place, you make yourself familiar and become part of the community so they know you're dedicated to being more than an outsider covering a community. 

I think it's exciting to move to new places. I grew up moving around because my dad was always researching something on sabbatical. These opportunities to move to new cities and countries gave me an idea of how different (and same) the world's neighborhoods could be... I was lucky.

Any time there's an opportunity to move, I'll take it. I tried to move away for college - twice. Four colleges is a lot of credits and transcripts to track down.

I loved Pittsburgh. I loved New York City. I love Los Angeles and L.A. County. I'm ready to jump into the next opportunity. 

If life takes me to Texas or North Carolina or keeps me here, I'm ready for a new adventure. I was ready to pack my stuff and move to the Mississippi Delta because I was so excited about Report for America that only needed one photographer and that was the location.

I'm ready, life.