Hidden pockets of beauty are scattered around the San Francisco State campus. You can find them if you know where to look — or if you visit one of Michael Jensen’s two offices on campus, where he displays an impressive collection of photographs he’s taken over the years.
Jensen, both a graduate and longtime staff member of SF State, has been taking photographs almost as long as he’s been with the University, more than 20 years. His favorite subjects to photograph are the natural and architectural wonders of the area, and he prides himself on his ability to notice things that other people often overlook and bring those things to light.
“It’s my way of helping people learn to look around them,” says Jensen, who runs the College’s mail room and is an instructional support assistant in the Consumer and Family Studies/Dietetics Department.
Jensen has a knack for getting just the right angle and lighting on a photo with almost no manipulation of the photos after the fact. His tools are a basic Fujipix digital camera, sometimes with zoom, a good eye and lots of patience; all he needs to turn everyday sights into something magical.
Though Jensen has never exhibited his talents outside of the University he loves to show off his work to students, faculty, staff and visitors. This was how English Lecturer Jennifer Arin became familiar with it.
“One day he came and showed me one of his photographs. It was this beautiful vividly colored flower,” Arin says. “.... I thought it was some exotic [flower] from the botanical gardens or maybe his own garden, but when I said, ‘That’s beautiful; where did you take that,’ he pointed just outside the window.” Arin has been a fan ever since.
Jensen’s tip for budding photographers is just to “take lots of photos. … Find out what your vision is, and realize that no two people see the same thing the same way. No matter what it is.”
Photos courtesy of Michael Jensen