Brooks Institute

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Not to be confused with Brooks College.
Brooks Institute
Brooks logo.jpg
Motto Passion. Vision. Excellence.
Established 1945
Type For Profit
President Tim Gramling
Location Santa Barbara, California, USA
Campus Suburban
Website Brooks Institute

Brooks Institute is a for-profit higher education institution centered on the visual arts based in Santa Barbara, California and Ventura, California. Formally known as Brooks Institute of Photography, Brooks Institute offers four majors and one graduate programs. The Professional Photography and Masters of Fine Arts in Photography programs are based in Santa Barbara. The Design, Film and Video Production, and Visual Journalism programs are based in Ventura. The institute is owned by Career Education.[1]


Brooks Institute of Photography was founded in 1945 by Ernest H. Brooks, Sr. over a bakery on State Street in Santa Barbara, California. The school's first photography students were primarily World War II veterans supported by the G.I. Bill.

In 1952, the Brooks family acquired the Graholm Estate in present-day Montecito, California. This served as the home of Brooks Institute of Photography, as well as for Ernest H. Brooks, Sr.'s growing family.

Ernest H. Brooks, Sr. stayed on as president of the school until 1971 and died in 1990. At the time of his retirement as president, his son, Ernest H. Brooks, Jr. stepped into his father's shoes and served as the school's president.

During his tenure as president, Ernest Brooks, Jr. continued to expand the school. His personal passion for underwater photography inspired the underwater video and still photography courses that started in the late '60s and continue to this day.

Brooks Institute has been involved in many extraordinary projects in recent years, but this forward vision and involvement was happening even in the 1980s when the Institute was permitted to photograph the Shroud of Turin. Professor Vernon Miller, then head of the Industrial/Scientific program, led a team of photographers as they photographed the cloth for documentation and study.

The school was sold by Ernest H. Brooks, Jr. to Career Education Corporation (CEC) in 1999. Since then, CEC has expanded the school, including the acquisition of a former production studio in which to base the school's motion picture program. In 2007, the school changed its name from Brooks Institute of Photography to Brooks Institute.

In June 2013 Brooks announced that it will consolidate its educational programs on its Ventura campus by moving photography to the same campus as visual arts.[2]

Programs of study[edit]

Brooks Institute has eight separate academic programs.


  • Professional Photography, based in Santa Barbara, focuses on the following areas of specialization: Digital Imaging, Commercial, Advertising, Industrial/Scientific, Portraiture and Digital Media.
  • Film and Video Production, based in Ventura, is a study of filmmaking and production techniques, including proposals and budgeting, scripting, directing, and editing. Majors include, Feature Filmmaking, Commercial Filmmaking, Visual Effects and Animation.
  • Visual Journalism, based in Ventura, concentrates on teaching photojournalism.
  • Design is based in Ventura.
  • Master of Fine Arts in Photography, based in Santa Barbara, is a 61 credit, two-year program. The MFA program allows students to benefit from higher technical, aesthetic and practical knowledge.
  • Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting, based in Ventura, the new graduate program established in 2009 focuses on Hollywood standard screenwriting.
The Santa Barbara "Jefferson Campus"
The Entrance of the Ventura Campus

Campus and student life[edit]

Brooks Institute has two main campuses, both located in Santa Barbara, California and Ventura, California. The Professional Photography Program facilities are located at the Santa Barbara campus. The Visual Journalism, Film and Video Production and Graphic Design classes are located at the facilities in Ventura. Brooks also has two libraries, one in Santa Barbara and one in Ventura, that contain thousands of books, journals and other publications.

Brooks Institute also has two public art galleries that display student, faculty, alumni, and guest photographer work. Brooks Institute's Gallery 27 is located at the Cota Street campus in Santa Barbara. Since, Callery 27 will be closed as of May 2015 along with the Santa Barbara campus. The Visions Gallery is operated in conjunction with the Marriott Ventura Beach in Ventura.

Brooks Institute graduations are held in the historic Arlington Theater in Santa Barbara.

Before Brooks Institute established the Ventura campus and renovated the property into a school, the lot was used by Hollywood production companies to shoot motion pictures. Scenes from both Titanic and Cast Away were shot on this location. The Ventura campus contains three professional Hollywood style sound-stages, a 'Mexican Village' movie set, and the 'Brock House'; the actual set used as the interior house in the film Erin Brockovich. Since, both the Mexican Village and Brock House have been destroyed.

In June 2010, the "Mexican Village" was used for the production of the feature film Without Men directed by Gabriela Tagliavini; it stars Eva Longoria, Christian Slater, Oscar Nunez, Paul Rodriguez and Monica Huarte.

With the creation of the Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting program, many notable industry specialists have come to the Ventura campus to participate in screenings, lectures and seminars. During 2010, Brooks hosted screenings along with Q&A sessions with notable professionals, including: Mark Fergus, writer of Children of Men and Iron Man, David Sheffield, writer of Coming to America and The Nutty Professor and Brian Nelson, writer of Hard Candy and Devil. These sessions are open for students of all Brooks Institute programs to attend.

The Visual Journalism Program at Brooks hosts a Documentary Program. This is a class based program that all Brooks undergraduates are invited to participate in. This documentary class takes students all over the globe to document various cultures. Students spend an entire scholastic session (approximately 2 months) in another country and return to California to edit a multimedia presentation. The Brooks Institute documentary class has taken students to countries such as Ireland, India, Mexico, Cuba, West Africa, Czech Republic, Costa Rica, Australia, Argentina, China and Chile. In 2010, the students of the documentary program ventured to Vietnam and were guided by world renowned photographer Nick Ut.

The Chile documentary group of 2010 raised nearly $7,000 for the Chile Earthquake Relief Program.

In 2011, Brooks Institute removed its facilities from the Jefferson campus and is now primarily located in the Cota and Mason Street campuses. Respectively, the Ventura campus is still running its usual programs. The Mason Campus was closed during 2014. The Santa Barbara campus will be closed as of May 2015 and all operations will be moved to the Ventura Campus.


Brooks is nationally accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools which offers accreditation to mostly vocational schools.

National accreditation should not be confused with regional accreditation. Regionally accredited public and private colleges, such as UCLA, USC, UC Santa Barbara, Harvard and Stanford University, often do not accept transfer credits from nationally accredited schools. Credits earned at a nationally accredited school are not transferable to most four-year institutions.[3]

In August 2008, Brooks Institute successfully completed, "Eligibility," the first step to receiving regional accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).[4] This application process takes several years and is not a guarantee that the school will ever receive regional accreditation.


In July 2005, the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education (BPPVE) accused Brooks Institute of Photography and its parent corporation Career Education Corporation of persuading prospective students to enroll by "willfully misleading" them, and "falsifying and omitting critical information." [5][6][7] Brooks was given only a conditional approval to operate for the next two years with a hearing scheduled for February 2006, and ordered to provide "equitable restitution" to students going back to 1999. However, Brooks appealed the decision and at the hearing the judge determining that BPPVE had not complied with the mandatory provisions of the Education Code, and that it had wrongly denied Brooks Institute an opportunity to contest the Bureau's action prior to the time it was imposed. The California Department of Consumer Affairs (which oversees BPPVE) later reached the same conclusion.[8] Although Brooks ultimately received unconditional renewal of its license, it settled with a class action lawsuit for $12,250,000.[9][10]


In November 2008, Brooks laid off five faculty members and 12 staff members as part of a restructuring. The school reports that its enrollment dropped from 2,300 in 2004 to 1,200 in 2008.[11] This recent restructuring is in addition to the faculty who had been 'seemingly dismissed' in recent years; together these created tensions at Brooks tracing back to about January 2007.[12]

In May 2010, Roger Anderson left his post as president of Brooks Institute. Respectively, Sue Kirkman was hired shortly after. As of late 2010, Kirkman plans to continue the reconstruction of Brooks, which includes the transition of accreditations and repairing the school's public reputation to the prestigious title it once held. Kirkman has since left and Tim Gramling became President. Enrollment has dropped even further down. They laid off 6 staff at the end of December 2014, as to avoid increasing already high tuition costs.

Notable alumni, faculty, and students[edit]

Students shooting a project on the on-campus film set called "The Mexican Village".

The film program at Brooks Institute began in the mid-1950s. Graduates include: Isidore Mankofsky, Cinematography for The Muppet Movie and Somewhere in Time; Dominick Palmer, Cinematography on the TV series M*A*S*H; Robert Legato, Academy Award winner for Best Effects (Digital Domain) on the movie Titanic, Visual Effects Supervisor for The Aviator and Visual Effects on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone; and most recently, graduate Boris Undorf, Best Cinematography at Visionfest for his film Sonata.

Some notable alumni and faculty include:



  • Cornelius Uliano and Bryan Schulz. Writers and Producers of the upcoming "Peanuts" movie in association with 20th Century Fox and Blue Sky Studios.
  • Douglas Bizzaro, Fashion photographer, clients include Jean Paul Gaultier and Chrome Hearts [14][15]
  • Jacob Chase, director of The Four-Faced Liar.
  • Stephen McGee, Visual Journalism alumnus, earned his third Emmy in 2008 for his project, "Forty Years of Respect." [4]
  • James Neihouse, 1976 Professional Photography graduate, works with IMAX as their Director of Photography.[16]
  • Othman Karim, Award winning Swedish film director and TV personality.
  • Marty Thomas, Feature film director (director of LIONSGATE thriller Killer Holiday, for wide release early 2013, music video director of more than 250 MTV music videos, winner of MTV VMA's, 4 American Grammy Awards nominations and winner "Best Picture" at the Kodak Movie awards. Founder of RIDICULOUS Pictures, LLC. the award-winning film production company,
  • Michael Thompson, photographer; clients include W, Details, Allure, Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, Tiffany & Co., and DeBeers.[17]
  • Emy Kat, 1997, photographer
  • Douglas Conant, award-winning director of the films Broken and Sleeping. Sleeping is based on the story by novelist Katharine Weber.

Coordinates: 34°25′05″N 119°41′48″W / 34.4181°N 119.6968°W / 34.4181; -119.6968[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ [2][dead link]
  3. ^ [3][dead link]
  4. ^ a b "Photography School and Film School - Brooks Institute". Retrieved 2015-07-02. 
  5. ^ "Dennis Dunleavy". Retrieved 2015-07-02. 
  6. ^ "Calif. Reins In a For-Profit College". Retrieved 2015-07-02. 
  7. ^ Morgenson, Gretchen (2005-07-24). "The School That Skipped Ethics Class". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2008-11-09. 
  8. ^ [4][dead link]
  9. ^ [5][dead link]
  10. ^ [6][dead link]
  11. ^ [7][dead link]
  12. ^ "Ventura County Reporter - Tensions flare at Brooks Institute of Photography". Retrieved 2015-07-02. 
  13. ^ [8][dead link]
  14. ^ McNally, Greer, “Douglas Bizzaro + Elizabeth Moss”, Digital Photographer magazine, 2005, (p. 42) Issue 31 Highbury Entertainment Ltd, Paragon House
  15. ^ "Douglas Bizzaro Photography". 
  16. ^ "News Government & Politics - FLORIDA TODAY -". FLORIDA TODAY. 
  17. ^ "Containers". Retrieved 2015-07-02. 
  18. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Brooks Institute Cota Street Campus
  19. ^ "The Pulitzer Prizes | Works". 2012-10-18. Retrieved 2015-07-02. 
  20. ^ "Javier Manzano". Retrieved 2015-07-02. 
  21. ^ "9781894856867 Snowbirds: Behind the Scenes with Canada's Air Demonstration Team by". Retrieved 2015-07-02. 

External links[edit]