Alumni Take Dark Room on the Road

By Ryan Whitchurch, Student Assistant

Pictured here is The Photo Palace Bus that has two Volkswagon Station Wagons mounted on the top.

Pictured here, the bus will have a photo studio equipped with a darkroom, presentation station, a light studio, and two Volkswagen station wagons on top that will serve as sleeping quarters.

Two San Jose State University alumni have set out to remind Americans about the time-honored traditions and artistic beauty of darkroom photography.

Anton Orlov, ’06 BFA, and Ryan Kalem, ’11 BFA, are raising funds to build The Photo Palace, a mobile art studio housed within a vintage 35-foot, 1978 Gillig school bus that the two will use to travel across the United States teaching the art of analog and darkroom photography.

The bus will have a fully functioning photo studio equipped with a two-station darkroom, a presentation and workshop station, a light studio, and two Volkswagen station wagons welded to the top that will serve as sleeping quarters.

“When digital photography exploded, many old tenets of analog photography were forgotten, darkrooms soon seemed all but obsolete,” Orlov wrote on their Kickstarter fundraising page. “Traditional photographic printing methods allow the photographer a greater degree of interaction with their work.”

Visiting all 48 continental states, the two will teach photographic education, as well as create and present their works along the way. With plans to roll out this summer, The Photo Palace will provide lectures and demonstrations; offer workshops on gelatin silver printing and alternative photo processes; and hold impromptu and planned photographic showings. The Photo Palace will also be creating a  documentary portrait series on the road.

Check in with Orlov and Kalem as they travel across the continental United States inspiring thousands of Americans, coast-to-coast, as they share their talents and passions with all those they encounter. You can follow the Orlov and Kalem on the The Photo Palace blog or make a donation to lend your support as they work toward transforming their dream into reality.

Business student wearing grey sweater giving speech in front of a mic

Student Raises Funds for “Green” Water Bottle

Business student wearing grey sweater giving speech in front of a mic

Junior business administration major and Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge winner JD Leadam speaks at an Acceleration campaign event (SJSU Alumni Association photo).

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

A business administration major’s award-winning idea for environmentally friendly water bottle is gaining traction.

JD Leadam is moving quickly to capitalize on his first place finish at the Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge this past December, when he presented his idea for a reusable, biodegradable water bottle made of a renewable resource, industrial hemp. The challenge is an annual Silicon Valley Center for Entrepreneurship event.

“I could still be sitting in the seat of a classroom dreaming up ideas, but because of the competition, it’s all starting to happen like a snowball effect,” he said.

Leadam, who also received the Most Innovative Idea, Best Elevator Pitch, and People’s Choice awards, shared his experiences at an Acceleration leadership committee gathering held at Club Auto Sport in San Jose.

Leadam’s has been pouring energy into his own 30-day crowd sourcing funding campaign, set to expire in just over a week. As of Feb. 10, Leadam has raised nearly $10,000 from 93 backers.

“I’m looking to raise $15,000,” Leadam said. “This is the amount that I calculate will get me through the plastic testing phase and the design and the tooling of the mold itself.”

Leadam credits his advisory board, which includes the president of a consulting firm specializing in injection molding, an investment banker from Morgan Stanley, and Avon U.S. President Brian Connolly.

“Experts in a given field can be a great resource to an entrepreneur or a small business trying to get started without the formal responsibilities of a board of directors of a company,” Connolly said.

Leadam’s updated plans include manufacturing his bottles locally, which Leadam says will keep jobs in the United States and decrease the size of his product’s carbon footprint.

“The greener I can make this product, the better,” he said.

Notable speaking engagements in the works for Leadam include appearances at Humboldt State University and a TEDx conference this April in Denver.