Personal Stories

Lori Rafferty

After graduating from UCSB in 1982 with a double degree in Zoology and Environmental Studies, I finally pursued a passion that had taken a back seat during my undergraduate years and that was photography. So while working in SB, I quickly exhausted the available classes at SBCC and found myself wanting more. Then I got this wild idea that since I already had a college degree, maybe Brooks Institute of Photography up at the Jefferson Campus would allow me to take a few classes on their campus, and why not ask? Hence I paid a visit one day and asked the nice lady at the front desk if Brooks would ever consider letting in a "non student". To my surprise she said wait here a minute, and while she disappeared I wondered where she went. Upon her return she said I could explain myself to Ernie. Gulp you mean "The Ernie"? Yes she said go right in.

I swallowed hard and embraced this big leap of confidence that suddenly came out of nowhere and in I went to Ernie's office. After talking with Ernie who keenly and politely listened, it appeared I might actually have had a chance until he said "bring me a portfolio to look at”.  Another gulp what was that I wondered? I had a science background, not an artist background! 

I'm proud to say I rose to the challenge, got a portfolio together, dropped it off for Ernie to review, and was eventually admitted to take several classes that I still cherish to this day: Nature Photography and Black and White Photojournalism. They served me well and helped propel my freelance career so I have "The Ernie" to thank for taking a chance on me and offering that amazing opportunity way back when. He definitely made an impact on my life and every time I see one of his fabulous black and white photos I think of my Brooks time down in the darkroom where the present SBMS Deli is located.

Lastly, as a proud parent of two SBMS alums, and a volunteer teacher who re-started the photography elective at SBMS (entering the digital world in 2005), it is extremely gratifying to see student photography once again displayed on the walls in the Jefferson Campus.... it’s truly a full circle circling back. Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Brooks!

photo: “Toad Hall”, photo by Lori Rafferty - Grand prize winner of Santa Barbara Botanic Garden's Photo Contest 2006

Christine Cowles