darlene almeda // visual artist
commercial artist: [ web designer ] photographer [ + educator ]
My visual arts career began with graphic design and illustration studies at The School of Visual Arts, New York City, and advertising photography studies at Portfolio Center, Atlanta. From the start, I worked for various advertising agencies and small businesses in Manhattan and Atlanta as a comp artist, graphic designer, and photographer. In 1985 I opened a commercial art studio in Atlanta that specialized in products, portraiture, and special events. I achieved the Professional Photographers of America certification degree (CPP) early in my career, and my work has been included in professional salons and publications over the years. My clients have included: Kodak, IBM, Fujisawa Pharmaceutical, Nintendo Atlanta, Sweetheart Cup, Rheam Corporation, Ritz Carlton, Ernst & Young, The Fox Theater, Mohawk Industries, and many others. My most memorable photo session was with jazz musician Ray Charles. After 25 years of commercial work, I began winding down. Today I continue working as a visual artist performing graphic design and product photography for web development clients. I create new work regularly and enjoy sharing my photography through my blog and other media outlets.
Teaching was always a part-time vocation for me. I wanted to be an effective instructor and received my degree in education from Florida State University. Still, I must give credit to my education studies at Georgia State University and an extraordinary math professor I was fortunate to have while majoring in mathematics at Southern Polytechnic State University, where I learned the core of how to teach. I began teaching commercial photography in the 1990s for a well-known art school in Atlanta, the Southeastern Center for the Photographic Arts, which later became the Rocky Mountain School of Photography. I taught art and photography electives for various schools and one-on-one workshops for over thirty years, which has always been my favorite teaching format. In 2017 after a few years of teaching and directing a commercial photography program full-time for a tech college, I decided to retire from teaching—the time involved in full-time teaching plus running a commercial program consumed more of my creative life than I am willing to give. I appreciate my many requests for private instruction, but I cannot accept these invitations as I devote my free time to travel and art projects. When I write an article for publication that serves to help photographers with techniques in film and digital photography, I will post it here when copyrights permit or include a link to where it has been published if on the web.
During my childhood, I lived on both the western and eastern coasts of the United States, but I never felt either location was home. When I arrived in Atlanta, I found a sense of belonging in the southern culture, eventually leading me to settle in North Florida. I have one child, a handsome and intelligent son that I adore. I am vegetarian, and my home has always been a refuge for rescue animals. I enjoy watching log cabin building on YouTube, envisioning a life nestled in the woods, far from the clamor of society. My favorite pastimes are classical guitar, art making, cooking, and reading. Music has always been an integral part of my life, having started classical guitar studies as a child. I have a special appreciation for classical & jazz guitar music and some popular artists from my teen and young adult years. One of my most memorable experiences was attending a concert by the legendary Andrés Segovia. While I’ve built a career as a commercial photographer, photography remains my foremost artistic passion, closely followed by graphic design. I enjoy the immediacy of photography’s creative process even more today, when I can go off-grid with my campervan and cameras, looking for beautiful landscapes and interesting places. I have lived my chosen life and am deeply grateful for it.