Faculty - Bob Howell

Bob Howell

I began my career teaching underwater photography in Guaymas, Mexico. From there I taught at Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara and came to Cal Poly in the early 70’s. I was excited to come to Cal Poly because there are so many professors who know so much and I had a very tradable commodity. I rarely meet someone who does not want to improve his or her photography skills.

All I had to do was offer a time for time swap. I would teach them photography and they would teach me whatever I wanted to know about their area of expertise. Since I arrived I’ve learned a lot about various languages, physics, chemistry, electronics, metalworking in a machine shop, marine biology, astronomy, mathematics, CNC machining, and computer science to name a few areas. I also had the opportunity to teach in the computer science department for several years.
When I arrived, there was no Art Major and the department was scattered among several old Quonset Huts in what used to be a baseball practice field. The department has come a long way since those early years and I truly appreciate sharing the experience with my colleagues.

My current interests are metalworking and embedded systems (programmable interface controllers). I really enjoy developing prototypes that use photography and video to capture what our eyes cannot see or places our bodies cannot go. During my career I’ve sent projects up on the space shuttle, photographed landscapes in (almost) total darkness, compressed and expanded time, worked on a vehicle that could become invisible and, long before Google began photographing the earth, I designed a device that shoots exceptionally clear panoramas in spaces that are too small for a photographer to enter. My original degree is in Motion Picture production and, inspired by the transition to digital technology, I wrote 5 books on video production and motion graphics (Prentice Hall, publisher).

Where next? I don’t really know. There is so much to discover and so many opportunities that it is really hard to choose. Wherever I go and whatever I do next I will always appreciate the opportunities that the university has provided me for the majority of my life.


Robert Howell

Professor Photography
Phone: 805.756.2772
Email: rhowell@calpoly.edu
Office: 34 - 153


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