By Camden Andl ’19
Hidden in a relatively secret room on the third floor of Eller, the new photo studio is the campus’ newest addition in the last few months.
Located in what used to be the darkroom, this new studio setup includes a black backdrop for portraits and product shots, professional studio lights, and a state of the art cyclorama, or “cyc” wall.
Cyclorama walls are also known as infinity walls because of their seamless appearance and are usually built in a room’s corner, but instead of having crisp corners, a cyc wall has curved corners—there is no distinguishable corner present on any part of the wall.
The construction of the cyclorama wall allows for photos, such as portraits, to be taken with a smooth, seamless, and evenly lit background.
2D advanced video production teacher and Fine Arts department chair, Mr. Pete Burr ’07 played a key role in the creation of the new studio and its cyc wall.
“Mr. Mulloy [’99], Mr. Kelly [’09] and I were all in the same classroom, and we looked at that and said ‘man this is a really big space that’s not being used, what can we do in here,’” Mr. Burr said. “We looked around the room and saw the effective studio that was already set up in the corner, and we thought it would be great if we could move a whole photo studio into the darkroom and teach kids what using a real photo studio would be like.”
Mr. Burr said that the design of the cyc wall was largely inspired by the one in Kitchen Sink Studios, an advertising, media and branding agency in downtown Phoenix.
“We were lucky that there was enough room in the budget early in the semester that we were able to start building, and that’s how it came to be with the idea,” Mr. Burr said. “We [Brophy] want to stay relevant in everything we do, and in art, we want it to be relevant as well.”
Advanced Placement photography student Stokley Berg ’18 said that the new photo studio setup allows him to get shots he could not get before.
“The studio’s way bigger—what we had before was just the black backdrop which really wasn’t bigger than maybe four or five feet wide, but now since we have the infinity wall, it takes up about a quarter of the room and it’s much wider,” Berg said. “Because of that you don’t have to worry as much about the crop on your photos because you’ll be able to do that in post, whereas with the other setup, you really had to worry about getting in tighter.”
Currently, students like Berg are really the only ones able to use the studio, but Mr. Burr said a system for all students on campus to use the studio is being developed.
“My hope is that in the next two years or so there are people up there all the time using it for various parts of campus life,” Mr. Burr said. “Whether that’s Photo Video Club helping them out, taking photos for them, or a friend in a photo class helping a buddy out with something—clubs and promotional work, sports teams that need headshots—we now have a space for that which is really, really cool.”
AP photo students including Saul Rascon-Salazar ’19 have already started to utilize the new studio, some using the cyc wall as a key element in their AP photo concentrations.
“I use it every week, at least once a week for my AP photo concentration which is on documenting human emotion,” Rascon-Salazar said. “I take advantage of the white background and the lighting.”
The studio is currently only open to photo students who are trained to use it, but will soon be open for campus use.