Brooks Institute

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Not to be confused with Brooks College.
Brooks Institute
Brooks logo.jpg
Motto Passion. Vision. Excellence.
Established 1945
Type For Profit
President Edward Clift [1]
Provost Victoria Liptak
Location Ventura, California, USA
Campus Suburban
Website Brooks Institute

Brooks Institute is a for-profit higher education institution centered on the visual arts based in Ventura, California. Formally known as Brooks Institute of Photography, Brooks Institute offers four majors and one graduate programs. The programs include Professional Photography, Film and Video Production, Graphic Design, Visual Journalism, and a Masters of Fine Art in Photography. The college is owned by Gphomestay.[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. CEC had 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]

In June of 2015 Gphomestay announced Edward Clift as president, and Victoria Liptak as provost.[3]

Programs of study[edit]

Brooks Institute has eight separate academic programs.


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.

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 professional Hollywood style sound-stages, a 'New York Street Backlot' (previously it was a Mexican Village set), and the 'New York Bar'.

In June 2010, the previous "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.

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 located in Ventura.


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.[4]

In August 2008, Brooks Institute successfully completed, "Eligibility," the first step to receiving regional accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).[5] 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 current parent corporation Career Education Corporation of persuading prospective students to enroll by "willfully misleading" them, and "falsifying and omitting critical information." [6][7][8] 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.[9] Although Brooks ultimately received unconditional renewal of its license, it settled with a class action lawsuit for $12,250,000.[10][11]


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.[12] 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.[13]

In 2015 Gphomestay purchased the school from Career Education Corporation.[1]

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:


  • Cecily Rhett, Film faculty, editor A&E’s “Biography,” ABC’s “The Bachelor,” FOX’s “Hell’s Kitchen,”.
  • Paul F. Ryan, Film faculty, director of Home Room
  • Bill Robbins, Pro Photo faculty, award winning advertising photographer based in Los Angeles, see CA Magazine Photo Awards (
  • Paul B. Margolis, writer of MacGyver and The Sentinel.
  • Judy Trotter, Film faculty and member of The Director's Guild of America for over 20 years; and a working member of the film industry for 35 years as an associate director, assistant director, stage manager and producer.[14]
  • Tracy Trotter, Film faculty member and principal of Trotter Productions, received his third Emmy in 2008 for directing the Public Service Announcement, "Voter." [15]
  • Karl Ulrich, Film Faculty, he directed two award-winning short films and is currently directing and producing a feature-length documentary on the art of cinematography, with over 30 prominent ASC members participating. [16]


Coordinates: 34°25′05″N 119°41′48″W / 34.4181°N 119.6968°W / 34.4181; -119.6968[19]

  • Othman Karim, Award winning Swedish film director and TV personality.
  • Emy Kat, 1997, photographer.
  • Javier Manzano, winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography for his work in Syria.[20] He has also won two World Press Photo awards.[21]
  • Stephen McGee, Visual Journalism alumnus, earned his third Emmy in 2008 for his project, "Forty Years of Respect." [5]
  • James Neihouse, 1976 Professional Photography graduate, works with IMAX as their Director of Photography.[22]
  • Matt Revolter, film producer & photographer.
  • Mike Sroka, photographer and author of the book Snowbirds: Behind The Scenes With Canada's Air Demonstration Team. [23]
  • 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.[24]
  • Cornelius Uliano and Bryan Schulz. Writers and Producers of the upcoming "Peanuts" movie in association with 20th Century Fox and Blue Sky Studios.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Brooks Institute Announces New President". July 2, 2015. Retrieved July 31, 2015. 
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ "New Leadership Announced at Brooks Institute". July 1, 2015. Retrieved July 31, 2015. 
  4. ^ [2][dead link]
  5. ^ a b "Photography School and Film School - Brooks Institute". Retrieved 2015-07-02. 
  6. ^ "Dennis Dunleavy". Retrieved 2015-07-02. 
  7. ^ "Calif. Reins In a For-Profit College". Retrieved 2015-07-02. 
  8. ^ Morgenson, Gretchen (2005-07-24). "The School That Skipped Ethics Class". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2008-11-09. 
  9. ^ [3][dead link]
  10. ^ [4][dead link]
  11. ^ [5][dead link]
  12. ^ [6][dead link]
  13. ^ "Ventura County Reporter - Tensions flare at Brooks Institute of Photography". Retrieved 2015-07-02. 
  14. ^ "Brooks Institute". Retrieved 2015-08-19. 
  15. ^ [7][dead link]
  16. ^ "Brooks Institute". Retrieved 2015-08-19. 
  17. ^ McNally, Greer, “Douglas Bizzaro + Elizabeth Moss”, Digital Photographer magazine, 2005, (p. 42) Issue 31 Highbury Entertainment Ltd, Paragon House
  18. ^ "Douglas Bizzaro Photography". 
  19. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Brooks Institute Cota Street Campus
  20. ^ "The Pulitzer Prizes | Works". 2012-10-18. Retrieved 2015-07-02. 
  21. ^ "Javier Manzano". Retrieved 2015-07-02. 
  22. ^ "News Government & Politics - FLORIDA TODAY -". FLORIDA TODAY. 
  23. ^ "9781894856867 Snowbirds: Behind the Scenes with Canada's Air Demonstration Team by". Retrieved 2015-07-02. 
  24. ^ "Containers". Retrieved 2015-07-02. 

External links[edit]