January 13, 2020

Firefighters & Families Make Memories at SMC

SoCal Firefighters & Families Make Memories at Santa Monica College

Photography Students Provided Family Portraits, Cosmetology & Fashion Students Makeup & Styling

SANTA MONICA, CA—The Santa Monica College (SMC) photo studios had several special subjects Jan. 10-11. SMC photography students created free family portraits for the families of nine Southern California firefighters and first responders from the Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD), Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD), the Ventura County Fire Department (VCFD), and more. Cosmetology and Fashion students helped all 29 individuals represented in these families look photo-ready (The seven dogs and one cat participating required hardly any makeup).

These photo shoots for the community have come to be a bit of an SMC tradition. In 2019, several families who had lost their homes in the 2018 Woolsey Fire received free portraits. It was a true collaborative effort again this year, with 36 faculty, staff and student volunteers.

Ventura County firefighter Chris Walker made the drive in to Santa Monica from Simi Valley with his wife Nicole, and his children Eloise and Lane. He has been with the VCFD for eight years, and said becoming a firefighter had been his dream since he was a boy. He helped put out the Easy Fire which swept through Simi Valley and its environs in 2019, as well as the 2018 Woolsey Fire.

Upon being asked if he felt a great sense of relief when the fires are finally contained, Walker said yes, but that “unfortunately these fires have grown a lot more common than it used to be. And the difficulty is being away from family . . . it’s always nice to have an anchor to come home to, and there’s a sigh of relief until the next time unfortunately – but that’s what we signed up for.”

Daniel Bresler—a firefighter with the LA County Fire Department—was fresh out of fire academy just in time for his first major experience: the Woolsey Fire. His wife Marla Bresler said: “I was so anxious, watching the news constantly, to see if I could see anything of him. But we got to see him interviewed and that was a beautiful thing, and we were like, ‘There’s our hero!’ My son was all about it!”

“This is something I always had in my heart to do, something with meaning and responsibility,” said Bresler, and added that he plans to continue in his line of work for a long, long time. His four-year-old son D’Angelo said he wants to be like his daddy when he grows up.

Perla Garcia—a senior typist clerk at the Health Hazardous Materials Division in Commerce—brought her niece and sister, who live with her, to Santa Monica College. Also in tow were their six dogs, and cat—all dressed for the occasion. On the experience of receiving the services of the SMC Photography, Cosmetology, and Fashion students, Garcia said, “I feel like a movie star!”

Each family received archival B&W matted prints and a flash drive with all the images from the session. The student photographers participating in the project are enrolled in classes taught by the entire department’s faculty under the guidance of Chair Josh Sanseri. Photography professor Craig Mohr was the faculty lead on this project.

For more information on the SMC Photography Department and its offerings, see smc.edu/photo. For SMC Cosmetology, check out smc.edu/cosmetology and smc.edu/fashion for the Fashion Department.

SMC Photography volunteers
A group of Santa Monica College volunteers from the college’s Photography, Cosmetology & Fashion departments who worked together to provide free family portraits to firefighters, first responders and their families Jan. 10-11.
Perla Garcia, her niece, sister and their six dogs and cat
Perla Garcia (extreme left) from the Health Hazardous Materials Division in Commerce with her niece, sister, their six dogs and cat at Santa Monica College’s photography studios Jan. 11.
Firefighter Chris Walker, his wife Nicole, and children Eloise and Lane.
Ventura County Fire Department firefighter Chris Walker, his wife Nicole, and children Eloise and Lane.
Firefighter Daniel Bresler, with wife Marla Bresler and son D’Angelo
LA County Fire Department firefighter Daniel Bresler, seen here with wife Marla Bresler and son D’Angelo, was fresh out of fire academy when the 2018 Woolsey Fire broke out. It was his first experience in dealing with a major fire.
Deborah “Debbie” Perret taking care of dogs
Deborah “Debbie” Perret, Cosmetology department chair & professor, helps mind a set of canine subjects while their humans get makeup and hair done during a photo shoot for firefighters and first responders at Santa Monica College Jan. 10-11.
Firefighter Chris Walker and his children wait while their wife and mother, Nicole gets her makeup done
Ventura County firefighter Chris Walker and his children wait while their wife and mother, Nicole Walker, gets her hair and makeup done at Santa Monica College’s photo studios Jan. 11.