June is a transitional time at Maine Media. We revel in the return of green grass, warm breezes and exuberantly talented seasonal staff, but we also say goodbye to our Professional Certificate students whose creative evolution kept us enthralled and inspired for the last ten months. With projects that crossed genres of photography, video, and writing, Maine Media’s first cohort of Professional Certificate in Visual Storytelling graduates explored subjects ranging from Maine’s farm-to-table movement to the underwater flora and fauna of Penobscot Bay to the existential states of the human condition.

We have confidence that our sadness will soon be replaced by awe and pride. Our PC graduates have a history of quickly transforming 30 weeks of knowledge into professional endeavors that leave us beaming. Right now, we’ve got our eye on class of 2014 graduate Corinna Halloran. A former professional sailor and racer, Corinna sought out our PC program with a singular mission: to gain the photography, video, and writing skills necessary to win a coveted spot as on-board reporter for a vessel competing in the around-the-world Volvo Ocean Race. Less than two months after completing the program, she achieved her goal. Corinna was recently awarded the position of On Board Reporter working with the Team SCA vessel.

In a recent 14-day transatlantic voyage with the all-female crew, Corinna was able to make use of her creative and technical training as she photographed and shot video in challenging conditions, and kept the world tuned in through her blog posts. “Everything that I learned in these two semesters has prepared me 110%,” Corinna wrote to us before the journey. “There is no doubt in my mind that my success here hinges on the lessons learned at MMW+C. I feel so prepared having done the PC program.” 

While we follow Corinna’s adventures from the relative safety of dry land, we look forward to welcoming back class of 2013 graduate Sujata Khanna. Working in the development sector in Delhi, India, Sujata sought to transform a photography hobby into a tool for storytelling and advocacy. She began her Maine Media experience in our eight-week Photo Residency Program, but soon realized how much more she could gain by staying on to earn her Professional Certificate in Photography. “I started seeing instead of looking. I started making images instead of taking images,” says Sujata. “Cocooned in this magical environment and being able to concentrate solely on photography, without any distractions, came naturally in Maine. I lived photography. I breathed photography.”

After earning her Professional Certificate, Sujata returned to India where she was hired by CARE International to photograph their Girls Education Program across India. She is also working on an independent project photographing Indian widows. “I returned to India with confidence and faith to implement everything my mentors taught me. I am a social documentary photographer, a visual artist, and a visual storyteller, and I will create awareness in my country about issues that matter to me,” says Sujata. “There is a story waiting to be told at each corner in India, and I feel prepared to narrate these stories visually. Those nine months that promised to change my life truly did!”

It seems we never have to wait more than a month to see images from class of 2012 PC graduate Matt Cosby. If his work is not gracing the cover of Maine Magazine, he most likely has a gorgeous spread inside. Offered his first gig with the magazine while attending the opening reception for the PC graduation exhibition, Matt has gone on to have his images included in every edition for the last two years.  Before joining the PC program, Matt had a colorful career as a musician, crisscrossing the country in a van with the alt/rock band Jeremiah Freed. When what was once little more than a photography pastime showed promise of becoming more lucrative than music, Matt sought out Maine Media on the advice of PC graduate and MMW+C instructor Tim Estep. “I really didn’t know what to expect from the program,” says Matt. “I learned to take risks and to get out of my comfort zone, but also to always stay true to myself. As artists and creatives I feel like we sometimes get inside our heads a lot. In the program I learned how to filter and channel my emotions to make better images, and how to let go and not be so harsh all the time.”

Matt recently had one of his images published in Rolling Stone magazine, described as one of the “hottest live photos of 2014.” Assignments to National Geographic Traveler Magazine and Boston Magazine have since followed, and we know there will be plenty more on the horizon. For the next generation of Professional Certificate students, who may be uncertain about what the future holds, Matt had this advice: “Be a sponge! Soak up as much as you can from the faculty and your peers. You just never know when you’ll need that knowledge.” 

While the upheaval of the season sometimes feels like an emotional rollercoaster here at Maine Media, the endless pleasure of following our students’ inspired careers long after they have left us make all of it worthwhile.