Get to Know Us

Get to know our world-class staff and see why we’re one of the top arts universities in the country.
Want to get in touch with us? Visit the Directories.

School of Photography & Digital Photography Faculty

James Wood

Executive Director, School of Photography

Jim Wood has been teaching for more than 35 years, while simultaneously running one of the west coast’s largest commercial studios. His client list tops 1000, among them: Life magazine, American Motors, Honda, IBM, Apple, Yamaha, Gallo, Levi’s, Marlboro, Wells Fargo, Polaroid, Kodak, Nikon, Kraft and Toyota. Mr. Wood has the honor of being named one of the 65 best photographers in the world by Canon U.S.A.

Ryan Baldwin

Director, School of Photography

Ryan Baldwin has been a professional photographer for more than 20 years and is a graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography. His fine prints have been showcased at numerous gallery shows and his work has been published in magazines, books and national advertising campaigns. He is especially interested in using photography as a tool for environmental awareness and cultural preservation. He has taught photography at the Academy since 2001 and developed the digital imaging and online photography curriculum.

James Goins

Online Associate Director, School of Photography

James Goins is a fine art photographer based in San Anselmo, California. He holds a BFA in photography from the University of Missouri-Saint Louis and specializes in mixed media and alternative processes. His photographs and paintings have been exhibited throughout the Midwest and the West coast. James is a member of the Society for Photographic Education and the College Arts Association.

Tamara Hubbard

Online Associate Director, School of Photography

Tamara Hubbard is a fine art photographer based in northern California. She has an MFA degree in Photography from Academy of Art University. Her photography work has been exhibited throughout California and the Pacific Northwest. Her passion for the photographic medium has been her primary involvement in the visual arts for the past 10 years. Tamara is a dedicated member of the photographic community and is involved in the Society for Photographic Education, the College Art Association and the Humboldt Arts Council.

Adrienne Pao

Graduate Associate Director, School of Photography

Adrienne Pao is a photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. She is currently investigating two photographically based projects. Hawaiian family portraits and dress tents. Both projects investigate notions of tourism in real and simulated fantasy landscapes, and involve a combination of performative and staged scenarios.

Her work is featured in fashion and pop culture magazines, as well as art journals around the world. Adrienne has shown her work nationally and internationally from the Museum of African Diaspora in San Francisco, California to Recoleta Cultural Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Caixa Cultural in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Adrienne received her MFA in Photography from San Jose State University in 2005 and has been committed to photographic education for the past six years. Her work can be viewed at

John Vano

Acting Associate Director, School of Photography

John developed an interest in photography at a young age. His Uncle who was a well known portrait photographer sparked his initial enthusiasm for the camera. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, John's love of both photography and people eventually led him to Milan, Italy where he lived for three years and studied photography at The European Design Institute.

For over two decades, he has worked on both large corporate campaigns and with individuals alike to hone his love of visual storytelling. He is passionate about creating authentic and compelling photographs that capture a subject's true essence. He is also dedicated to passing on his knowledge as a photography instructor and was recently appointed Associate Director at Academy of Art University in San Francisco where he has worked for over twenty two years.

John works collaboratively with clients to achieve the best possible outcome. His engaging personality and easy-going manner create an open and creative environment which results in inspirational and unique photography. He currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, two children and his 1971 Ford Bronco.

Shannon Ayres

Curriculum Coordinator, School of Photography

Shannon has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from American University and an MFA in Photography from Academy of Art University. He began his career 10 years ago as a photojournalist freelancing for numerous publications, including Wild Bird Magazine, Blue Ridge Country magazine, Chesapeake Life and Richmond-Times Dispatch. He works in the documentary tradition of Eugene Atget and Walker Evans.

Connie Begg

Curriculum Coordinator, School of Photography

Connie Begg is a fine art photographer and curator specializing in alternative photographic processes. She received a MFA degree from Mills College and maintains an art studio and darkroom in San Francisco. Her photographs are in many private collections and have been exhibited internationally. She is the founder of Photo Alchemy and a grant recipient of the California Arts Council. She is also a member of FotoForum and has served on the boards of the Society for Photographic Education and the Artspan Artist Advisory Council.

Alyson Belcher

Curriculum Coordinator, School of Photography

Alyson received her BA in Humanities from UC Berkeley and an MFA in Photography from San Francisco State University. She investigates the relationships between movement, stillness, and time by photographing her subjects with pinhole and other low-tech cameras. She is represented by the Robert Tat Gallery in San Francisco and Gallerie Citi in Burlingame and has exhibited in galleries from New York to Taiwan. Recent publications include Poetics of Light: Contemporary Pinhole Photography.

Marico Fayre

Curriculum Coordinator, School of Photography

Marico Fayre is a fine art photographer, specializing in environmental portraits and conceptual storytelling. She holds a BFA in Photography from the Pacific Northwest College of Art and an MFA from Academy of Art University. Marico is a full-time faculty member and curriculum coordinator for the Academy’s Online Photography department, and she also puts her photographic and marketing skills to work for a variety of non-profit organizations and publications internationally. Marico is passionate about engaging viewers in the shared dialogue that exists between artist, audience, and artwork. For over 15 years she has combined reality and personal narrative in portraits and self-portraits, examining ideas of transformation, identity, and the meaning of home. Her work incorporates mythology and archetype into an intimate examination of memory, place, and personal metaphor. Marico’s work can be found in publications, galleries, and private collections nationwide.

Katty Ryan Hoover

Senior Faculty & Curriculum Coordinator, School of Photography

Katty Ryan Hoover was born in Corbin, Kentucky. She received her BA in the College Scholars program at University of Tennessee and her MFA in photography at San Francisco Art Institute. She has also studied at University of Notre Dame and Semester at Sea through the University of Virginia. Her work is aimed at people: narratives of isolation, loneliness, and social tension, and the body as a site of psychological negotiation. Her work has been shown at Tampa Museum of Art, Marin Museum of Contemporary Art, James Madison University, and Michael Rosenthal Contemporary Art in San Francisco. Hoover currently lives and works in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Kimberly Mowbray

Curriculum Coordinator, School of Photography

Kimberly Mowbray is a fine art photographer based in Santa Rosa, California. She has an MFA degree in Photography from Academy of Art University. Kimberly works primarily in alternative processes. Through her photographs she explores the understanding of self and how that interacts with a given environment. By using the photographic medium she is able to show the beauty and serenity in various locations and pair that with her own figure reacting and responding to the stillness of the landscape. Kimberly is an active member in Society for Photographic Education and exhibits her work nationally.

Michael Sims

Curriculum Coordinator, School of Photography

Michael Sims is a photographer and educator living and working in San Francisco. He has been teaching in the Bay Area for the past 10 years and in 2011 joined the Academy of Art as a full-time faculty member.

Michael earned a BFA from Indiana University, with a major in photography and a minor in Art History. He earned his MFA in photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Michael’s photographic practice utilizes the medium’s cutting-edge technology but also engages its historic traditions. He is interested in blurring the line between the contemporary and the antique. His work explores cultural concepts of beauty while also tracing the roots of ancient ritual alive within contemporary society. Michael’s photographic expertise ranges from medium and large format digital photography and printing to hand-brushed platinum printing and hand made bookbinding.

Erik Butler

Full-Time Faculty, School of Photography

Erik Butler has over twenty-three years of photographic experience as the owner of a successful San Francisco based commercial photography studio. Whether shooting large format in the studio or environmental portraiture on location, Butler is known for his dynamic, elegant lighting style and use of saturated color to produce dramatic imagery.

Tim Mena

Full-Time Faculty, School of Photography

Tim Mena is a freelance and fine art photographer based in Oakland, CA. His commercial work includes lifestyle, portraiture, and architectural photography. Tim is particularly interested in the documentation of culture and the integration of modern life in historical sites. His work has been exhibited internationally and is in numerous private collections. Tim has made photographic education a priority and is a member of the Society for Photographic Education and the Center for Photographic Arts. He has taught at the Academy of Art University for over a decade and his students have gone on to lead rewarding careers in the field.