College Friend

Brian Leng “The basic, technical information I got at SMC started me off well at Brooks Institute. It really put me ahead of the game.”

Brian Leng has come a long way since the days he spent developing photographs in a black and white darkroom at Santa Monica College. Now, two decades later, he owns a prestigious photographic studio in Hollywood which he runs with wife Jill. And yet it’s that little SMC darkroom Brian remembers fondly. “I remember bumping elbows with other students over the developing trays,” he says, chuckling at the memory. “After two weeks, we got to know each other pretty well and started sharing our pictures and problems and ideas.”

Brian left SMC in 1970 after two semesters and went on to Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara. But, throughout the years, he’s found many ways to maintain a connection with the college. “I’ve always been in contact with photography instructor Don Battle,” Brian says of his former mentor who introduced him to Brooks and put him in touch with many professional photographers.

Brian now passes on his expertise in photography to students at SMC through the Mentor Program. He’s also lectured at the college, and is a regular participant in the annual Photography Department Show.

As past president of the Southern California chapter of ASMP (American Society of Magazine Photographers) and current board of directors member for APA (Advertising Photographers of America), Brian has been involved with the issues of copyright laws and photographers’ rights. But more recently his priorities have changed. Most of Brian’s spare time is now spent with two-year-old daughter Jessica. “She’s the most important thing in my life,” he says. “Raising a child is an incredible experience.”

​Read more stories from present and past years in the SMC Student Spotlight Archive.