Tucson-area photography teacher Michael Halfmann shoots his way onto CAC Wall of Success
By Guy Harrison, Media & Marketing Specialist
(This story is one in an occasional series of features highlighting Central Arizona College alumni and Wall of Success inductees)
PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. –Michael Halfmann’s story is a tale of two very accomplished careers. His efforts in both have landed him on Central Arizona College’s Wall of Success.
“It feels great,” Halfmann says of being inducted. “It makes me feel good that the awards or any of the recognition I get validates everything I do.”
For roughly 13 years after finishing his classes at CAC, Halfmann toiled as a photographer, first on staff with the Casa Grande Dispatch and then as part owner of Ray Manley Portraits.
With his elder business partners beginning to discuss retirement and the world of photography starting its transition into the digital age, Halfmann knew he would have to make a bigger investment in order to keep Ray Manley Portraits afloat.
Halfmann started looking for full-time work. While waiting to hear about a job with the Tucson Police Department, Halfmann’s brother, who was the one who first introduced Michael to CAC and was already a teacher, informed him of two photography teaching openings at the local school districts that would spawn his second career.
Since 1993, the native of Fond du Lac, Wis., has been teaching photo imaging to students within the Sierra Vista and Tucson Unified school districts. In that time, he has received Teacher of the Year honors from the Arizona Technology and Industrial Education Association (ATIEA) and has seen many of his students go on to become professional photographers.
Halfmann’s role within the teaching community also has grown. He now serves Sahuaro High School in Tucson as its Joint Technology Education District (JTED) coordinator as well as its career and technical education department chair.
Looking back on his accomplishments, Halfmann holds a special place in his heart for CAC as the institution that started him down his career path.
When he was a student at CAC, Halfmann was a photo editor for the Cactus, the campus newspaper. He took his camera everywhere, recalling one instance in which he took a photo of a car fire in Casa Grande that he would go on to sell to the Dispatch. This, according to Halfmann, is when he knew that a career in photography was for him.
Now, as a teacher, Halfmann can give back to his students the excitement he felt as the student who took his camera everywhere.
“I love it when the students get excited about photography,” Halfmann said. “When you show them a new technique with the camera, or with Photoshop, the kids say, ‘Whoa, this is cool’ and take off with it.”
In a sense, Halfmann has come full circle. The process of getting his education at CAC and beyond, as well as the impact that he makes in his students’ lives, made his November 2012 induction especially gratifying to him.
“This validates education. It shows that education and hard work pay off.”