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ACC Alumni Spotlight: Kate Blakeman

Kate Blakeman, ACC alumna

Meet ACC's featured Alumna: Kate Blakeman

What degree(s) or certificate(s) did you earn at ACC?

Associate of Applied Science in Commercial Photography

What year did you graduate?


Why did you choose the major you did?

I originally joined the program to take a few classes for hobby and was blown away by the caliber of instructors and curriculum. It didn't take much convincing for me to pursue photography professionally and finish the degree.

What was the best thing about your program of study?

I loved the structure of the program and how hands on everything was. Between the intimate class sizes, demos, feedback, and critique I learned a ton in just 2-3 years. 

What are you up to now?

The majority of my work is photo assisting. I'm based in Denver and work as a photographer and photo assistant here. In addition to that, I spent half the month working as a freelance assistant at a studio in St. Louis. It's been an incredible learning opportunity to work with talented professionals running big productions for Panera, Sonic, and other companies in the food and beverage industry.

What's your Mountain (your ultimate goal)?

My ultimate goal is owning a studio and building a small in house team that would allow me to focus on the photo / creative side of the business. I intend to specialize in food and food related product including packaging photography; ad campaigns; and for a creative outlet, cookbooks.

What's your favorite ACC memory?

Most of my favorite ACC memorizes revolve around nailing an image. Often after turning in the first ok version, getting constructive feedback, reworking the idea, and bringing it back the next week. It wasn't always a fun process, but it grew me so much as a photographer and looking back was one of the best parts of this program.

Which class was your favorite and why?

My favorite classes were always in the studio, focusing on shaping lighting for tricky subjects like glass and shiny metal. We were paired up with a fellow student to work on projects and that dynamic made for some great memories! The brainstorming and problem solving as a team resembles the photo industry on real sets. We learned a lot from each other and having someone to work and laugh with made the process 10x more enjoyable.

Why did you choose ACC?

So many reasons! I started ACC before graduating high school to take art classes for hobby and instead, fell in love with photography. I loved the small class sizes and instructors who consistently went above and beyond for us. It also allowed me to graduate debt free and focus my money on buying photo equipment.

What was your greatest accomplishment while at ACC and why? What has been your greatest accomplishment so far?

My greatest accomplishment at ACC was starting out not knowing anything about the commercial photo industry or even how to use a "real" camera to having a sophisticated and niche skillset in only 2-3 years. There's so much freelance work available that pays double or more than minimum wage pretty much straight out of school.

My greatest accomplishment so far was not only hitting, but exceeding my stretch income goals for my first 1/2 year out of school working solely in the photo / video industry. Thanks to this program I had a solid plan of how to achieve my goals and a portfolio of quality work to show potential clients.

Advice or words of wisdom for future students:

My advice to future students would be don't rush and overload your class schedule. ACC's photo program is heavily project based and requires a lot of time to execute assignments. Focus on producing quality, thought out work and your future self will thank you. Having that work to show is a huge part of getting paying work. That along with communication skills. Our business is heavily relationship based.

I also wish I had experimented and shot more projects when in school. There's an abundance of resources with ACC's equipment locker, being able to pull the "student card" to get access to some really unique projects, and knowledgeable instructors. Don't just shoot for class assignments--now's the time to play and learn as much as possible!

Check out some of Kate Blakeman's photography

(Click on an image to see a higher resolution version.)

Berries in bowls close up - photo by Kate Blakeman


Berries, chocolate, and chia in a cup with a spoon - photo by Kate Blakeman


John Walker & Sons King George V whisky bottle and glass close up - photo by Kate Blakeman


Whisky bottle and glasses on a tray - photo by Kate Blakeman


John Walker whisky bottle top close up - photo by Kate Blakeman


Bowl of breakfast foods close up - photo by Kate Blakeman


Bowls of breakfast foods and a spoon on a tray - photo by Kate Blakeman


Bowl of raspberries and granola in. yogurt on a napkin - photo by Kate Blakeman


Close up of a pan of pepperoni pizza with one slice being removed. A glass of wine and bowl of honey are in the background - photo by Kate Blakeman


Close up of pepperoni pizza - photo by Kate Blakeman


Close up of flatbread pizza with veggies on it.


Close up of bagels with lox, onions, chives, radishes on them - photo by Kate Blakeman