Brooks Institute To Close

Posted on 8/15/2016 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (2)

Brooks Institute, possibly the premier photography trade school in the U.S., has announced that after 70 years of training media and visual arts students it will close its doors on October 31. Students, faculty, and staff were informed of the closing at a meeting with school representatives on the morning of August 12, 2016.

“Although we had hoped that we could reinvigorate Brooks Institute, recent changes in economic and regulatory conditions have had a significant, prolonged negative impact on the institution,” said Kristen Howard, Brooks Institute, Transition Officer. “Our tireless attempts to mitigate this impact through contraction, strategic planning and innovation were sadly unsuccessful.”

Brooks will cease enrolling new students immediately and will not resume teaching classes this fall. However, Brooks will continue to offer administrative and student services support through October 31.

Brooks has offered degree programs in film, graphic design and photography that required 8 semesters of study for graduation. Total cost in tuition and fees for the 8 semesters was about $81,330. Brooks had about 250 students enrolled during the regular school year.

The decision to close follows years of declining enrollment, tighter federal rules on for-profit schools and a last-ditch effort to move the school to downtown Ventura, CA in the hopes of becoming what President Edward Clift called a "modern urban campus."

Donna Granata, a professional photographer and 1993 graduate of the school told the Ventura County Star that when she graduated, "The alumni association was so strong that if you were a graduate of Brooks you were guaranteed a job. The fact that you held the degree meant you had tremendous tenacity, tremendous skill, that you knew your stuff.”

In 1999 the Brooks family sold the school to Career Education Corp. and from that point on the school began to struggle with dwindling enrollment. Granata said, “When you put profits ahead of education, it's a bad formula."

In 2015 Career Education Corp. sold all of its for-profit campuses to Massachusetts-based GPhomestay, an organization that specializes in providing international students with high-quality host families within a school’s host community.

Attorney Aaron Lacey said enrollment was only part of the problem. The school's accreditor risked losing its ability to accredit, a move that could have affected a student's ability to get federal financial aid. Federal guidelines that went into effect on July 1, 2015 look at how much debt a graduate carries compared to his or her salary two years after graduation.

According to Lacey, based on these guidelines Brooks seemed unlikely to hit necessary benchmarks to keep that funding source open. He attributed the problem to the fact that many Brooks graduates tend to operate independently rather than getting a salaried position and that they may be under reporting earnings. (Editors Note: Under reporting earnings may not have been the problem. Earnings of independent freelance photographers may actually have been as low as those reported.)

Brooks has had a number of notable graduates, including Robert Legato, who earned Academy Awards for his work on "Titanic" and "Hugo"; and Javier Manzano, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 2013 for his photos of Syrian rebel soldiers.

Lacey said management made the decision to close Brooks on August 10th, a day after school officials ousted President Edward Clift. A majority of the board of directors also resigned during that week.

Other articles that might be of interest to those seeking a photography education.

Want A Photography Career: Do Your Due Diligence (2015)

Changing Photography Business (2013)

Seeking A Career in Photography (2013)

Copyright © 2015 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


  • Chris Bain Posted Aug 15, 2016
    Back in the pre-digital sheet film & polaroid days, when I was helping run the studios of Gary Bernstein and then Ralph Chandler (in that order), most of the assistants came from either Brooks or the Art Center. The Brooks grads had the tech stuff nailed and the Arts Center grads had the creative edge. Brooks will always be synonomous with the highest end of higher photographic education. Tis a sad day to read this.

  • James P Hawthorn Posted Aug 20, 2016
    I attended The Art Institute of Houston for my degree in photography. A couple of my instructors were graduates of Brooks and their knowledge and passion for photography far exceeded the instructors that didn't attend Brooks. So sorry to see this is happening.

Post Comment

Please log in or create an account to post comments.

Stay Connected

Sign up to receive email notification when new stories are posted.

Follow Us

Free Stuff

Stock Photo Pricing: The Future
In the last two years I have written a lot about stock photo pricing and its downward slide. If you have time over the holidays you may want to review some of these stories as you plan your strategy ...
Read More
Future Of Stock Photography
If you’re a photographer that counts on the licensing of stock images to provide a portion of your annual income the following are a few stories you should read. In the past decade stock photography ...
Read More
Blockchain Stories
The opening session at this year’s CEPIC Congress in Berlin on May 30, 2018 is entitled “Can Blockchain be applied to the Photo Industry?” For those who would like to know more about the existing blo...
Read More
2017 Stories Worth Reviewing
The following are links to some 2017 and early 2018 stories that might be worth reviewing as we move into the new year.
Read More
Stories Related To Stock Photo Pricing
The following are links to stories that deal with stock photo pricing trends. Probably the biggest problem the industry has faced in recent years has been the steady decline in prices for the use of ...
Read More
Stock Photo Prices: The Future
This story is FREE. Feel free to pass it along to anyone interested in licensing their work as stock photography. On October 23rd at the DMLA 2017 Conference in New York there will be a panel discuss...
Read More
Important Stock Photo Industry Issues
Here are links to recent stories that deal with three major issues for the stock photo industry – Revenue Growth Potential, Setting Bottom Line On Pricing and Future Production Sources.
Read More
Recent Stories – Summer 2016
If you’ve been shooting all summer and haven’t had time to keep up with your reading here are links to a few stories you might want to check out as we move into the fall. To begin, be sure to complet...
Read More
Corbis Acquisition by VCG/Getty Images
This story provides links to several stories that relate to the Visual China Group (VCG) acquisition of Corbis and the role Getty Images has been assigned in the transfer of Corbis assets to the Gett...
Read More
Finding The Right Image
Many think search will be solved with better Metadata. While metadata is important, there are limits to how far it can take the customer toward finding the right piece of content. This story provides...
Read More

More from Free Stuff