So now that you're all grown up are you doing what you thought you'd be doing?
"All grown up" has such a formal, finalized ring to it. Now as much as ever, my life is a work in progress. After Brown, I followed the expected route of an Applied Math - Economics major and landed a consulting job in Chicago, doing corporate fraud investigations and computer forensics. After three years of trying to make it stick, my wife and I quit our jobs and spent seven months traveling around the world. It was an awe-inspiring and life-perspective-changing experience.
I used the travel images from our trip to jump-start a transition into professional photography. Having loved photography since junior high, I was thrilled to finally take the leap of faith necessary to abandon the comforts of consulting and try to make a career out of my passion. I spent two years taking classes at Arizona State University and assisting photographers in Phoenix. Back in Chicago, I'm now establishing myself as a freelance commercial photographer with a documentary style. I'm learning something new every day, whether it's how to shoot in a new environment, how to incorporate a new technology, how to market myself to target clients, or how to run a small business.
So, to answer the question: I can't imagine that I actually "thought" I'd be earning a living from my photography, although perhaps I might have dreamt it. And I certainly didn't think that the seven years after Brown would take the path that they did.
What are you working on now?
I'm currently editing my latest documentary project. I collaborated with a Chicago-based organization call Range of Motion Project ("ROMP") to document a trip of American volunteers helping Guatemalan amputees receive prosthetic and orthotic services that they otherwise wouldn't have had access to. It was a fascinating project, and a sample of the images can be seen at http://marcaltman.com/gallery/romp2009/
Recent projects include:
In May I was hired to document life at a grade school in St. Louis for their brochure and a coffee table book celebrating their 40th anniversary. In April, I spent a week in Israel photographing American ultimate frisbee coaches (including a few Brown alums!) teaching the sport to underprivileged Israeli and Palestinian kids in an effort to encourage cross-cultural understanding. And last winter I documented a 10-day summer camp in South Africa for kids affected with HIV/AIDS. I've also spent the last few summers as staff photographer at an overnight summer camp in Wisconsin. All in all, they've been amazing projects, leaving me with fantastic images and life-changing experiences. Some of the images can be found on my website, www.marcaltman.com, or blog, marcaltman.wordpress.com.
In January, I'm putting together my first solo gallery show, at the Bonsack Gallery in St. Louis. It's titled "Explorations" and will showcase my travel photography.
How did Brown help you get where you are?
In an important but indirect sense, Brown encouraged my general sense of independence and exploration. My degree cultivated the analytical skills that have helped me problem-solve my way to where I am now. My semester abroad at Goldsmiths College in London showed me how amazing a life of photography could be, and implanted the travel bug deep in my personality. And my Brown friends continue to inspire me to follow my dreams and use my photography to do good.