Focus on instructors: Rebecca Webb


Photo by Eduardo Cardenas

Rebecca Webb curates the film program at UC San Diego's ArtPower! and The Loft at UC San Diego and has taught for UC San Diego Extension since 2009. Take a moment to read what Rebecca has to say about her work, her process and her teaching style.

What is it about the photographic medium that satisfies your own artistic/creative process?

I studied classical painting at the undergraduate and graduate levels. I was never very good at drawing, which is an issue for a painter. I then fancied myself as a filmmaker when I lived in New York City, working in the industry in various roles (editor, producer, etc.), but was frustrated by the mechanics of collaboration and the hierarchy of roles. About 11 years ago, I found photography when I took a few photo classes at Harvard (with instructors such as Sage Sohier) where I was working. The proverbial light bulb went off for me. The photographic medium combines everything I love about painting, cinema, and the power of autonomy.

What advice would you give to photo students in regard to developing as an artist/ developing a connection to their creativity?

Tap into your passions. What inspires, intrigues and fascinates you? Understand yourself and your history. How can you relate your passions to the history of who you are? This will help you define your work in an authentic way. Also—and very importantly—make time to make work. Don't be precious. You have to get to the point where its not a choice anymore. You have to make the work.

Some of our students are initially drawn to photo classes because they like technology. How do you help them engage in their creativity to improve or expand their own image making and improve the quality of their content/voice/artistic focus?

Again, I really like students to connect with "stories" that interests them specifically. Once the concept is defined, I like to help students work out the best way to express that story. What aesthetic approach will best articulate their ideas? I may suggest different approaches and advise them to shoot a lot, see what works and be flexible. I always encourage group and individual critiques with peers and mentors. Last, but not least, I like to show artistic work from different disciplines in addition to other photographers of all genres to excite students and generate ideas.

How do you stretch a students’ perspective on photography or photographers?

I always include a PowerPoint presentation of photographer's work that connects to the subject matter I am teaching at the time. A particular photographer might resonate deeply with a particular student and change their perspective altogether on the photo making process. I know it did for me when I learned about Helen Van Meene, David Hilliard, Gregory Crewdson, Laura Letinsky, to name a few. Somehow the images from these particular photographers opened up a whole new world for me in terms of subject matter and formal approach. So my hope is that I can excite my students like that with the photographers I share with them. I like to talk about why the photographers I cover shoot what they do, how they approach their work formally, and place it all into a historical and cultural context.

What is your favorite project to assign our students that helps them engage in their own creative process?

It really depends on the subject matter of the class. My favorite class to teach in Picturing Your Ideas: Developing a Body of Work. For all the reasons I mentioned above, but especially because I love to help students tap into the excitement and passion of finding an idea that they want to explore visually.

What do you think is the most challenging hurdle photo students face in developing an artistic voice?

It take time to develop a clear voice and confidence in your work. To do so requires lots of time, lots of exploration, stops and starts, successes and failures. Patience is key. We live in such a busy world inundated by imagery, noise, responsibilities. Finding the time for that clarity is not easy. So carving out that time for yourself is essential.

More about Rebecca Webb

Rebecca has been the Film Curator for ArtPower! and The Loft at UC San Diego—a cutting-edge performance lounge that melds design with cross-genre performances and innovative visual arts—since 2008. She's been a film producer/editor since 1998, and she's taught Photography for UC San Diego Extension since 2009. She was recently selected by Center Santa Fe to share her "Sutures: Stories with Seams" body of work with the photo editor of the New Yorker, gallery directors and book publishers, and she was chosen to attend the Center Santa Fe in early June 2013. Her work has been chosen to be part of a juried show, Photographers Network 2013: Selection 2013, and she has an image from the Sutures series being published in PROFIFOTO in July 2013.

Find out more about the UC San Diego Extension photography classes and the Photography: Images and Technique certificate program today at

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