The Art Institute of Austin, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston
The way to launch your career is by showing your work to anyone in the business who'll take the time to look. Meg Mulloy , Photography Instructor , The Art Institute of Austin, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?
I studied in Spain for a semester, and I think being abroad at that point in my life inspired my passion for capturing places, people, moments, and light.
How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?
Every freelance photography assignment I complete adds depth to my knowledge and experience, because each one presents new challenges and interactions. I always share stories about projects—and the tips and techniques I’ve picked up—because students need to see how problem-solving and thinking on your feet are constants in the life of a working photographer. It helps connect what they learn in the classroom to what they can expect after graduation.
What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring, and how do you inspire students to push themselves beyond their perceived limits?
In my top-level Image Manipulation class, students work together to create an ad campaign. They come up with a concept together, plan their pre-production—choosing locations, casting models, sourcing wardrobe and props—and then produce the images as a team. What I love about the assignment is that they get a glimpse into a commercial shoot and see all the roles other people, beyond the photographer, play in bringing even a single image together. I let them take the lead, and I make suggestions on how to strengthen the idea or the photo, either on set or during post-production.
How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?
Working together across programs deepens students’ appreciation for the various skills and know-how it takes to create compelling work. When Photography students work with Culinary students, they see what goes into making food that doesn’t just taste delicious, but looks appetizing in a photo. Working with Graphic Design students, they see how much deep design knowledge goes into a seemingly simple logo or brand identity. And teaming up with Fashion students, they can grasp what a difference it makes on a shoot to have someone with a trained eye working as a wardrobe stylist.
What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of networking. Finding work depends so much on word-of-mouth.
What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?
Doing good work and continuing to build the skills that strengthen that work are important. But the way to launch your career is by showing your work to anyone in the business who’ll take the time to look.