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After working at a camera store when he was in high school and photographing a wedding at age 18, Jerry Schmidt eventually went on to enjoy a 31-year career at UCM that allowed him to combine his passions for both photography and teaching.
Schmidt, who grew up in Clinton, Iowa, attended a junior college in his hometown before earning Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts degrees in photography at the University of Iowa. He spent the early part of his career working as a freelance photographer and briefly as a photographer at the University of Iowa Museum of Art before joining Central Missouri in the fall of 1980.
At the time the professor emeritus came to UCM, there was no photography department, only individualized majors. He and his colleagues gradually built a photography program within the College of Health, Science, and Technology which annually provides degree opportunities for hundreds of students across the state and beyond. Schmidt contributed to course development and taught classes such as Introduction to Studio Techniques, Portfolio Photography, Color Portraiture, Wedding and Location Photography, Advertising Photography, and Studio Illustration.
One of the challenges for Schmidt and his colleagues was to keep up with the ever-changing field of digital technology. He formed strong ties with other professionals in his field to help enhance educational experiences for students, while also contributing to special programs such as the Photo Society and the annual UCM Photography Expo that allows students, faculty and alumni to submit their work and compete for prizes.
While Schmidt worked hard to be a strong teacher, mentor and friend to his students, he continued to practice the art of photography, shooting photos for his own personal enjoyment, as well as working as a wedding and portrait photographer.