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Meet Dave Eichinger of San Diego City College in Downtown and East Village

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dave Eichinger.

Dave, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’m a photography professor at San Diego City College. I chose this career when I was about 16. I really enjoyed my high school photo and band classes and thought it would be great to follow in those teachers’ footsteps and try to inspire the next generation of photographers.

I went to CSULB (Long Beach, CA) for undergrad and grad school. My first job teaching, when I was 24, was in Beverly Hills at a very small private school with kids of some pretty famous people… Charles Bronson, Carol Burnett, Ed Asner, Carroll O’Connor, Jerry Lewis and more. I’ve been teaching photography since 1979. I was hired by SDCC in 2005. I feel extremely fortunate to do something I enjoy every day and do it in a city as great as San Diego.

When I’m not teaching, I travel as often as possible… with my cameras, of course. I call it “my therapy”. Most photographers and teachers are fairly social people, but to do any type of art, to really get into the zone, you generally need to be alone with your canvas or marble or cameras.

My “specialties” are mostly black and white, using pinhole cameras (a camera with no lens) and doing infrared photography (film and digital.)

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Teaching is never easy, but it’s generally very rewarding. When you see students “get it” and become confident and experts in their field, it’s great to know that I may have played a role in getting them there. And often they share their gratitude, just as I did with my mentors.

There are a lot of behind-the-scenes hours every week to keep our photo program sailing reasonably smoothly and try to keep it up-to-date and relevant. Between meetings, email, curriculum updates, semester schedule, etc., etc., I spend more hours working outside the classroom than I do in the classroom. But, I love my job and wouldn’t trade it with anyone.

San Diego City College – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I feel almost a split-personality in discussing my ” business” because I was hired to teach, but I’m teaching, specifically, how to become a photographer. “Doing” photography and staying up to date with the trends and techniques is necessary. So, my “business” is photography, but photo education is what pays my bills.

San Diego City College is growing, despite being over 100 years old. We have a great photo program here. Many say it’s the best around. We have amazing facilities in a fairly new building and we have great instructors. We were able to essentially design our portion (30,000 sq. ft,) of our building, which opened in 2010. We have a beautiful photo gallery, three studios, three darkrooms, three digital labs, and much more. We may have the largest darkroom in California or at least in San Diego.

Our photo department offers a full range of courses such as: three level of black and white (film/darkroom), digital photography, Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, studio lighting, portraiture, web site design, photo business practices, photo history, portfolios and more. Some of these are now offered online to accommodate people with crazy schedules, like most of us these days. We have a series of courses for serious fine art photographers and many classes that prepare our students for a career in commercial photography. I believe we have the most extensive photo program south of Orange County.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success can certainly be seen as many different things to different people and is often a living, evolving entity. For me, success in teaching is giving our students what they need to fulfill their goals. If they opt to be a wedding photographer, we do everything we can to prepare them for that job. If they merely want to be better at using their simple camera or even an iPhone, we have classes that will help with that goal. We have a dozen dedicated faculty members with a broad range of photographic backgrounds… both commercial and fine art

For me, I feel I’m successful if I can share my training and experience with students and they show their proficiency via a fabulous portfolio of images at the end of the year. And if my classes help students enjoy life to a greater degree, that is possibly the most important indicator of my success.


  • San Diego City College tuition is $46 per unit. Most classes are 3 units.
  • A two-year degree is about $3,000. It would be closer to $50,000 at a private school.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

All Images Copyright Dave Eichinger., Portrait of Dave Eichinger © Richard Billick

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