ARC photography professor perseveres during COVID-19 pandemic

Jodi Hooker advises students on how to succeed with art and multimedia skills


American River College art photography professor Jodi Hooker started out at community college like many of her students. (Photo courtesy of Jodi Hooker)

Usamah Hammour, Staff Writer

Jodi Hooker, who has loved art and photography since she was young, says she has faced new challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A professor of art at American River College, Hooker started out like many of her students, working hard to achieve her target.

“I set out to be an art teacher from an early stage of my life and that was after getting my [associate of arts degree] from a community college,” Hooker said. “Making a living was most important to me. I needed a ‘sure thing’ career.” 

Hooker decided she could create a balance between two time-consuming things: art and teaching. With a studio in her house, Hooker is able to work from home.

“Every day I process digital images, draw, paint, prepare paper, clean up or read and think about art. It is all part of studio life,” Hooker said.

Hooker is skilled at transferring knowledge to her students and often tells them that the only way to succeed is to hone their skills in several areas: language, multimedia, and image-making. 

“Learning, I think, is the most important [skill],” Hooker said. 

Hooker explained the difficulties of photojournalism during the lockdown circumstances.

“Many wedding events and commercial photographers were adversely affected by the pandemic closures,” Hooker said.

Hooker says that as consumers we use more photographs for free, and commercial photography is becoming very difficult.

“That was true before the pandemic, but the shutdown was especially harsh,” Hooker said.

Hooker says that the pandemic makes learning more difficult because it is online. 

Hooker explains the reflection of difficulties in learning.

“It is also more difficult to get higher thinking skills. However, online education is better than no education,” Hooker said. “The nuance of what you learn face to face in a classroom is lost in the online world.

Hooker also talked about the psychological and sociological impacts and reflections of the pandemic on photographers. 

“I can speak about myself only, where I have experienced great loss during this time,” Hooker said.“It is hard to learn while grieving, It is hard to create while grieving.”

Hooker advises her students to show kindness to one another.

“More than online learning I believe our grief has affected education, all of us need love and care, and compassion,” he says.

Hooker also offered recommendations for her photojournalism students.

“The photographer should be encouraged to express their loneliness and isolation, their grief and loss, their hope and anxiety for the future in images during this time,” Hooker said.

Hooker added that in order for photographers to improve their performance they have to follow what Ansel Adams said: “If you want to be a photographer, take more pictures.”