Photography Teacher John McNamara,
from the 1980 Logan yearbook
Yet, despite his spectacular success and the fame of his program, John McNamara, the photography instructor here at Logan, who is responsible for guiding and molding the students from year to year, usually shuns the spotlight. In fact, he didn't want to be photographed to illustrate this article, so we're using his picture from the 1980 Logan yearbook.
Recently, however, he sat down for an interview with The Courier's Diamond Floyd:
Courier: "Thank you, Mr. Mac, for your time."
McNamara: "It's no problem."
C: "So, how long have you been a teacher?"
M: "34 years. I've taught them all at Logan."
M: "Yeah, Logan was, originally, looking for a photography instructor, and I had a BA in art. I otherwise painted, so I didn't know what the heck I was doing. I pretty much faked my way through it for a bit."
C: "That's hard to believe. Your students love you, you must be great at what you do."
M: "Oh, I am, but it took some time. When the class first started, It was me at a loss. Some of my students knew more than I did, but I worked my hardest at staying a step ahead of everyone else."
C: "That must have been tough."
M: "The room that was provided to me for use was a regular classroom. The original photo classroom was room 84, just across the hall from where the photo class is now, at the end of the carpeted hallway, room 89."
C: "So what was it like?"
M: "We had three enlargers available for the class, only one worked. We turned a bathroom into the dark room where we could develop the photographs."
C: "Talk about rough."
M: "It was rough. I started taking on more photo classes as the years went by. Three classes in my second year, five classes in my third year. By my fifth year, I became a full-time photo teacher. I taught photo in that classroom for 20 years."
C: "Very impressive. What happened after 20 years?"
M: "After 20 years, the superintendent at the time, Guy Emanuele, had approached me about a new photo classroom. I informed them of the layout I wanted the room to have, and studio lighting. That's when I was able to teach in room 89, the new photo lab."
C: "Nice. So, was it hard to make that transition from painting artist to photographer?"
M: "No. It was fairly easy. My artistic background helped me a lot with my work's composition."
C: "Did you always want to be a teacher?"
M: "Ever since high school, I wanted to be a high school art teacher. My art teacher back then, Mrs. Joan Cultis, was my inspiration."
C: "Where did you attend high school?"
M: "I went to Logan for 2 years. Then I transferred to Hayward High School. My class was the second graduation class."
C: "Were you always into art?"
M: "I loved art. It was my calling, really. Now that I look back on it, me being a photographer and all, I don't really miss painting. It took such a long time to paint a work of art. Photography, on the other hand, is quick."
C: "Do you have student that try to contact you long after they've left your class?"
M: "I get letters from students I had 25 years ago, out-of-the-blue e-mails and stuff. It's really nice."
C: "What do students who want to take your class need to know about it?"
M: "I don't approve of the lack of motivation in my class. It's funny when some students find me more demanding than what they thought. I expect effort in my class."
C: "If you wanted people to know one thing about you, anything at all, what would it be?"
M: "Oh, I don't know. It's a big secret."