Monday Mentors: Meet Ashley Moog Bowlsbey, Faculty Student Mentor and Photography & Digital Print Lab Technician

. . .

Monday, November 6th, 2023

A 2012 Photography graduate of Pennsylvania College of Art & Design, Ashley Moog Bowlsbey continues to work as a practicing photographer while serving her alma mater in a new way.

She fills a dual role, as a Faculty Studio Mentor and as the College’s Photography & Video Department Lab Technician (more on those below). It’s ideally suited to her skills as both an analog and digital photographer, combined with her role as an adjunct faculty member in the department. In her own work, she specializes in digital fine art printing, bookmaking, and basic printmaking processes, focusing on topics of family, home, loss, and personal struggles, in addition to examining topics surrounding body image and feminine beauty ideals. 

In addition to her BFA from PCA&D, she holds a Master of Fine Arts in Photography from Indiana University Bloomington. 

“Both roles keep me on my toes in my own creative practice because I must be up to date on technical processes in addition to what is happening creatively in contemporary photography both in fine art and commercial realms,” she says.

You fill two mentoring positions … can you give a brief description of what you do in each of these roles? How are they different?

Ashley Moog Bowlsbey: The Faculty Studio Mentor position allows me to assist students with their projects, equipment, techniques/processes, digital software, digital printing, or anything else photo- or video-related that students may need help with. I offer one-on-one meetings or group sessions to provide demonstrations, facilitate student critiques, problem-solving for projects, or anything else students may need. I am available a minimum of two hours each week, more hours if needed, through in-person or online meetings. They can sign up for meetings with me through this form

The Photography & Video Department Lab Technician is a part-time position that reports directly to the Chair of Photography & Video to assist in taking care of department facilities, including the black and white and color darkrooms, the lighting studio, rental equipment, and all chemical inventory. I also assist with establishing department policies and procedures. I am responsible for materials safety in all photo labs and send out emails to the department for any new policies, announcements, and schedules as needed. Some of my weekly tasks include maintaining and keeping track of all department inventory, equipment rentals and repairs as needed, as well as ordering all supplies and equipment for the department and courses and keeping track of the supply budget, all purchase orders, and invoices. 

I am also in charge of training and supervising three student monitors in the photo and digital labs. I make the student monitor schedules, the lighting studio schedule, and equipment rental forms for the department. I assist with print lab training and assist IT with the maintenance of the Digital Print Lab. I also work with IT to solve student technical issues in the Digital Print Lab as well as evaluate and recommend future equipment purchases. 

What appeals to you about the role of mentor? Did this type of role officially exist when you were at PCA&D?

AMB: The studio mentor role did not exist when I was a student at PCA&D. The role appeals to me because I can help students with both the technical and conceptual aspects of their projects when they need extra assistance outside of their class times when their professors are not available. It is something that I wish I had when I was a student. I believe it helps relieve student stress as they work through project ideas while they are trying to learn new equipment or techniques. 

Do you work with students from all majors, or just Photography & Video majors?

AMB: I do work with students from all majors. Students do not have to be in the major or even enrolled in a photo class to request my assistance. I offer help to any students that need it. 

Can you give an example or two of an instance when your experience and expertise helped a student fulfill an assignment or helped them gain a skill?

AMB: Through these sessions, I have been able to assist students with their thesis projects to problem-solve anything from editing images to show layouts to possible presentation techniques. I have also helped students gain confidence with digital printing to get better prints for projects and shows. I have also been able to help students conceptually work through project ideas when they feel stuck. 

Has working in either of these mentorship roles impacted your own creative process at all?

AMB: Both roles keep me on my toes in my own creative practice because I must be up to date on technical processes in addition to what is happening creatively in contemporary photography both in fine art and commercial realms. It pushes me to stay involved with not only my own creative practice but also the photo world outside of the College, so I can be aware of all opportunities open to my students. It motivates me to keep up with photography jobs and studio work outside of teaching as well as staying involved with organizations like the Society of Photographic Education. Recently I also took on the role of treasurer for the Society of Photographic Education to offer the best help I can to the students.