Photographer Stewart Cohen Helps TAI Students See Advertising Through His Lens

by Mark Allen AllenMark

There are few things more frustrating for a creative advertising student than the moment they realize they’re going to have to settle for producing a lesser idea simply because the better idea requires production techniques, expertise or equipment that aren’t typically available to students. As I professor, I struggle with this reality, too. On one hand, I want to encourage a creative process that’s free and unencumbered by the usual limits and setbacks that students will no doubt face in their professional career. Whether it’s a creative director, or a client or an accountant, they will always have someone telling them “No.” So as much as I can, while they are in school, I always try to say “Yes” to the strongest ideas, regardless of what the production needs are. On the other, I have to be realistic and help students actually produce finished, polished work that they can be proud of and put in their portfolios.

One of the most common dilemmas that students bump into (or crash into) at the end of their ideation phase is the realization that the best idea is going to require high-end photography to pull it off right. And often this includes all the accompanying bells and whistles: cameras, lenses, lighting, location, models, and a host of various other specialized expertise. I’ve been amazed at how resourceful Ramen-eating college students can be as they scavenge the world for images and Photoshop their way to stunning imagery composited from a variety of sources. But I’ve also been impressed by students who have been able to find serious professional photographers who are willing to help bring a their vision to life – on a student budget or even pro bono.

Of the gracious and talented photographers who have worked with my students over the years, Stewart Cohen is perhaps the most consistent. He also happens to be one of the most respected commercial photographers in the business. He has won countless industry awards and has been profiled in Communication Arts Magazine and selected by Adweek as Photographer of the Year. All this to say, Stewart’s willingness to help my students is not because he’s trying to make a name for himself or because he doesn’t have enough paying clients. Quite the contrary, Stewart is constantly busy shooting for the biggest agencies and brands all over the world.


Stewart Cohen talks to Mark Allen’s Portfolio class about his experience as an award-winning commercial photographer and director.

But unlike other talented photographers, Stewart Cohen is a genuinely nice guy who believes in giving back. This isn’t to say that he’ll just shoot for any bright-eyed college student who’s in a bind – you’ve got to have a great idea first. As a professor, one of the things I appreciate most about Stewart is that he makes my students work for it. Every time he has taken on a project with one of my students, they always beam about all the things they learned with Stewart’s help – things that I’ll be the first to admit they couldn’t have learned in the classroom. At least not in my classroom.

Speaking of classrooms – Stewart recently agreed to come to SMU to speak to my Portfolio class about art direction and photography. He showed us a ton of great work with interesting backstories to each image. He doled out sage advice and fielded questions from a group that was eager to pick his brain for helpful hints on what it takes to do work at his level. In preparing for his visit, Stewart and I also discussed the possibility of a summer course for art direction and photography students – one that wouldn’t take place in a classroom, per se, but in a studio – Stewart’s photography studio, in fact. Although the final details of the class are still taking shape, the course is officially on the books for Summer 1.

Stewart Cohen photography for student campaign // Students: Jeremiah Alvarez and Ruth Sanchez // Client: Lush Cosmetics

Stewart Cohen photography for student campaign // Students: Jeremiah Alvarez and Ruth Sanchez // Client: Lush Cosmetics

Here’s a look at the learning objectives and course structure:

ADV 5301 Art Direction & Photography: (3 hrs) An exploration of the art direction skill set as it applies to photography in advertising and graphic design. Prerequisites: students must submit application.

In this course you will learn how to:

– Find and approach photographers/directors for advertising and design projects.

– Convey a conceptual vision to a photographer and a diverse range of creative professionals.

– Understand the inner workings of a professional studio by observing “real-world” photoshoots.

– Work side-by-side with photographers to produce quality images based on original concepts.

– Understand where the art director’s role ends and the photographer’s role begins (and overlap).

– Identify the need for necessary support roles (e.g., stylists, assistants, location scouts, etc.)

– Use design principles as they apply to photography (e.g., framing, cropping, balance, perspective, color).

– Identify and use the proper cameras, lighting and other equipment.

– Use proper terminology when art directing a shoot and communicating with a photographer/director.

– Discern differences and special considerations: studio vs. location; people vs. things; food vs. materials.

– Use pre and post-production techniques to ensure the capture and production of high-quality images.

– Create high-quality imagery with the equipment, resources and budget of a typical college student.

While this course is scheduled during the Summer 1 session, which runs from May 30th–June 29th, this class will take place in a concentrated and somewhat flexible format as opposed to the usual summer school schedule of 2 hours a day, 5 days a week. Concentrated, in the sense that most of our contact hours will occur during a few full-day photoshoots (6-8 hours) outside the classroom. Flexible, in the sense that we will be working according to the schedule of our illustrious photography partner, Stewart Cohen.

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Executive Internships 2016: Yiyang (April) Yu

In the final semester of the Temerlin Advertising Institute’s MA in Advertising program, students work in an executive internship with a Dallas agency. Read April’s story below.

Yiyang Yu: The Hall Agency


In the Hall Agency, I’ve had the opportunity to design official website pages for our agency and some logos for Shakespeare Dallas as a graphic designer. It is fun to design for the plays. I read a lot of different stories regarding to the plays and have gotten a lot of inspiration from them. I also really enjoy exchanging my ideas with all my colleagues. We come up with ideas together to build our own websites and it makes me feel like we are working as a real team.

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Executive Internship 2016: Preston Barrett

In the final semester of the Temerlin Advertising Institute’s MA in Advertising program, students work in an executive internship with a Dallas agency. Read Preston’s story below.

Preston Barrett: The Richards Group


I am currently an intern at The Richards Group in the Brand Management Department. While I am predominantly working on The Home Depot account, I’m doing projects for other clients as well.

In my internship, I work with people across all different disciplines within the agency to complete my projects. I’ve been involved in various phases of the process of launching different ads across different mediums (including radio, TV, print, and online). In addition to participating in weekly status meetings and participating in competitive analysis, I also have been able to listen in on recording sessions, attend a shoot, and conduct Home Depot store audits.

While the variety of work is very engaging, working with different clients has been a great experience because not only has it given me experience looking at advertising in different industries, but it has also shown me the intricacies associated with working with different size clients.

Working at The Richards Group has been an excellent learning experience for me to learn about working with accounts within an agency. It’s a very fast-paced environment, but I feel that has helped me realize just how much I’m able to accomplish. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed how much I’ve been able to learn and experience, and am excited to continue my internship!

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Executive Internship 2016: Jingxue (Snow) Wang

In the final semester of the Temerlin Advertising Institute’s MA in Advertising program, students work in an executive internship with a Dallas agency or office. Read Snow’s story below.


I am working as a graphic designer intern in SMU Office of Student Transitions and Orientation. My office provides programs and services to support new students and families in transition to SMU. I am responsible for creating SMU AARO online magazines that everyone can download from SMU Official Website. I also design a variety of digital and print materials, such as e-blasts, posters, Keynote and PowerPoint templates, binder covers etc.

I enjoy this internship very much. It makes me feel involved with the SMU culture and community. Also, I feel I am helping hundreds of students and parents gain better experiences in SMU. Since my schedule is very organized, I am able to have my own time to learn more skills and improve my abilities.

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TAI student Tien Dang Presents her Engaged Learning Research titled “Balinese Perceptions of Women in Advertising”

by Carrie La Ferle

CarrieLaFerleDuring Engaged Learning Week many students at SMU presented their work across a variety of topic areas. The projects were wide ranging from titles such as Spanish Language Policy in Mexico and Synaptogyrin is a Novel Longevity Gene to Overcoming the Identity Struggle.

Tien Dang (’16) spoke about advertising and feminism related issues. Her advisor for the research was Dr. Carrie La Ferle of the Temerlin Advertising Institute. After spending time researching about the culture and customs of the Balinese, Tien traveled to Bali in 2015. She was interested in experiencing the culture first hand and wanted to better understand the perceptions women had about how women are portrayed in advertising.

Tien-EL-2Tien learned much about the culture and how it greatly influences perceptions of women in advertising as well as ideas about feminism. In a comparison made later with Balinese women living in the USA, Tien was able to learn that “feminism comes in all shapes and sizes and exists through different lenses based on an individual’s experiences.”

Tien-Engaged Learning


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TAI Students Participate in the 2016 Most Promising Multicultural Students Program

TAI students Marissa Lopez (’16) and Tien Dang (’16) were selected for the AAF’s Most Promising Multicultural Student(MPMS) Class of 2016. The program, held from February 15th to February 18th at The Roosevelt Hotel in New York City, selected only 50 students from across the country to participate. Read about Marissa’s experience:


“Being a part of the Most Promising Multicultural Student Class of 2016 was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. It was truly an honor to be selected by the AAF as one of 50 students from across the country. I left the weeklong networking immersion program, with a whole new perspective and respect for the industry. MPMS opened my eyes to understanding what a truly incredible and passionate industry advertising is. The individuals I met over the week, from professionals to other students were all extremely inspiring. From learning how to embrace diversity in advertising to the best ways to go about starting your career in the ad world, everything I learned from speaking with and listening to these individuals are things that will help me in my career for the rest of my life.




Overall this program was extremely helpful for someone approaching graduation and looking to start his or her career in advertising. Some of the best takeaways from the program were to never stop learning, take risks, and to stay true to oneself. I believe that with this knowledge in mind the possibilities are endless. This program has allowed me to connect with agencies I had never thought about interacting with until I was standing in front of their table during a recruiters expo or standing in their very own office during our daily agency visits. Wonderful professional connections were made over the course of the week and so much knowledge was gained. However, most importantly I formed life long connections with my fellow MPMS Class. We are the future, and I can’t wait to see where each of us ends up. ”


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TAI Students Win Big at the 54th Annual AAF American Advertising Awards local competition

Written by: Willie Baronet BaronetWillie

TAI students Mackenzie Cimala, Tien Dang, Samantha Butz and Mallory Massa won the majority of honors in the Student category of the 54th annual American Advertising Federation (AAF) American Advertising Awards (formerly the ADDYs) local competition, hosted by AAF-Dallas on February 18 at Gas Monkey Live in Dallas.

Of the 15 awards presented to college students at this year’s competition, SMU won a total of seven in four categories, including three gold, one silver and three bronze awards. Senior Mackenzie Cimala won five awards, the most of any university student in the contest, including three gold and two bronze awards; gold-winning submissions automatically advance to the district level competition in Lubbock, Texas, April 14-16. Tien Dang was co-winner for two of Mackenzie’s entries, Sam Butz won a silver, and Mallory Massa won a bronze. Images of their winning work is pictured below.

“It is wonderful to see the students showcase their talents to the DFW advertising industry, as well as their parents, Temerlin alumni and their professors,” said Dr. Steve Edwards, director of the Temerlin Advertising Institute. “Awards are just one indicator of the quality of not only the students, but the dedicated agency executives and academic experts teaching in the program. We are so proud of Mackenzie Cimala for a truly outstanding performance! She, Samantha Butz, Mallory Massa and Tien Dang all have bright futures in the industry.”

Edwards noted that the students’ work follows that of many prominent TAI alumni, “including David Drown and Megan Lee, who each won multiple awards in the professional categories. We are especially proud of work by former TAI master’s student Arturo Lee and his team at Dieste, a Hispanic marketing agency. Their campaign, titled ‘Adoptable Trends,’ received a gold award in the Online/Interactive category and was named Best of Show.”

Willie Baronet, the Stan Richards Professor in Creative Advertising, said, “I am so proud of the achievements of Mackenzie, Sam, Mallory and Tien! I’ve watched them develop from wide-eyed newbies in Intro to Creativity into creative forces to be reckoned with. I’m confident this is only the first of many shows that will feature their work, and the work of many of their classmates! I’m honored to be a part of the Temerlin team here at SMU.”

“I was so honored to be one of the winners,” said Cimala, who took home five awards. “As a double major in both creative advertising and studio art and minor in graphic design at Meadows, I’ve been able to gain the skills and artistic perspective that enabled me to develop portfolio pieces worthy of ADDY awards. The feedback in our portfolio classes from fellow students, TAI professors and Dallas advertising creatives has been invaluable and allowed me to improve my work. TAI has given me a great academic experience that has also prepared me for the real world ahead.”

Over 950 entries were submitted this year from more than 70 Dallas advertising agencies and universities. Judges were Stephen Cargile, principal creative designer at Walt Disney Imagineering; Eunie Kwon, interactive design director at Mirum Agency; and Marcelo Padoca, creative director and copywriter at The Community (formerly La Communidad)


addysgroupFaculty, friends and family were there to cheer on the winners!


Left to right: Mallory Massa, Mackenzie Cimala, Sam Butz


CLIENT:                    Bowen House

CATEGORY:             Elements of Advertising – Logo Design

CREDITS:                 Mackenzie Cimala ’16, Designer

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 12.25.39 PMCLIENT:                    Fig & Olive – Logo design

CATEGORY:             Elements of Advertising – Logo Design

CREDITS:                 Mackenzie Cimala ’16, Designer

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 12.25.12 PMCLIENT:                    Fig & Olive – Olive oil bottle

CATEGORY:             Product or Service Sales Promotion – Packaging

CREDITS:                  Mackenzie Cimala ’16, Designer

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 12.25.20 PMSILVER AWARD

CLIENT:                  Dr. Frommholtz’s Candy (fictional line of novelty jelly beans)

CATEGORY:            Product or Service Sales Promotion – Packaging

CREDITS               Samantha Butz ’17

Butz_Dr. Frommholtz's Candy_2BRONZE AWARD

CLIENT:                     MiraLax – “This Too Shall Pass”

CATEGORY:             Print Campaign – Magazine

CREDITS:                 Mallory Massa ’16

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 12.26.39 PM243CLIENT:                     BarkBox

CATEGORY:              Print Campaign – Magazine

CREDITS:                 Mackenzie Cimala ’16, Art Director  ;  Tien Dang ’16, Copywriter


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TAI Alumn Spotlight: Jay Chary lands dream job at VICE: Talks about his latest assignments and lessons from TAI

Jay Chary (‘15) was ecstatic to be offered a position as a Junior Creative for VICE’s in-house creative agency. The once punk magazine has now expanded and evolved into a youth media giant, building out a multimedia network including the website as well as a network of nine other digital channels including Vice News, a TV and feature film production studio, record label, and a book-publishing division. Read on as Jay talks about his work and how he’s applying what he learned at TAI:


“My latest assignment is working for VICELAND, VICE’s 24-hour cable network that we’re launching at the end of February, with Spike Jonze serving as the creative director. Everyone is really excited, especially in terms of the commercial segments of the network. VICELAND is really trying to crack the problem with the way advertising is done on television right now and if we figure out how to crack it, it’s definitely an opportunity to make a substantial impact. A lot of the work is pretty much taking every aspect of advertising and flipping it on its head. Making it more human, personable, less commercial, and going against a lot of norms that have been instilled in the field. Although I started working with VICELAND so close to the launch, I am extremely excited to see what people think.

Outside of VICELAND, there are similarities with the typical advertising agency, but here the responsibility that they give you on projects– regardless of your position level– is quite significant. The best way to describe it is organized chaos. Everyone seems to be going at 100 mph with no signs of slowing down. As soon as one project ends, it’s on to the next one and everyone juggles multiple projects at a time. Coming from internships that often times seemed slow, this was surely a change and challenge. However, as tiring as it gets sometimes, I don’t think I would want it any other way.”

Jay credits TAI’s portfolio classes and Introduction to Creativity as vital to his preparation for his job’s ‘sink or swim’ aspect, calling them “the most important courses in my academic career”. Jay attributes his drive to the guidance and leadership he received from the TAI creative faculty, realizing that “you can be inherently creative, even if you don’t excel in fine arts.” He goes on to mention that he was never good at art or music or acting, but taking Willie Baronet’s Introduction to Creativity class helped him realize that not being good at those things did not exclude him from being a creative person. His lessons have landed him with a top creative job, and his story is an inspiration to aspiring creative students facing the challenges Jay once did.

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The Alien in a Foreign Land – My Story of Integrating at TAI

My parents didn’t understand it. My sisters supported it. A lot of my friends just gave me blank stares. Those were the initial reactions I got when I told them I was going to be pursuing a Masters in Advertising at Southern Methodist University. Students from my region, that is, the Indian subcontinent, do NOT study something from the School of Arts. It’s either STEM or an MBA. My mind was pretty set though. And my conversation with Dr. La Ferle, and the sheer transparency that she provided in respect to the program, gave me ample confidence that this made sense.

AHM Mustafizur Rahman is a first year graduate student in the MA in Advertising program.

AHM Mustafizur Rahman is a first year graduate student in the MA in Advertising program. 

My undergrads were in economics, but it never really struck a chord with me. I always liked human behavior, psychology, and I always liked watching ads. After working in the marketing department of a local company, I knew I wanted a better understanding of consumers and the world of advertising. But where I come from, advertising programs are rare, and given my economic background, difficult for me to entertain the possibility of pursuing it elsewhere. That’s where TAI came in. Besides offering a program that piqued my interest from the very moment I visited the website (the landing page is an excellent attention grabber), TAI offers what most international students crave – financial aid. The small and intimate class size is also a benefit, especially for somebody with no prior experience in advertising. I am allowed the luxury of meeting and speaking to all the professors, and gaining valuable insight beyond classroom readings.

As crazy as some might think my decisions to be, I believe they’re not looking at the bigger picture. Dallas is a city filled with many opportunities in my field. I am in a program and school that is extremely well known and respected, surrounded by professors with vast industry experience. Sure, it’s not common for a person from Bangladesh to be where I am. However, I see myself growing into the program, gaining the tools and wisdom required, and hopefully carrying over my learning to a professional experience here in Dallas. I also have the opportunity to delve into further research and pursue a PhD, or indeed go back to Bangladesh, which as a developing country is undergoing exciting changes where advertising and media expertise will only gain further prominence. Therefore, despite appearing to be crazy, I believe I’ve got my bases covered. And over time, I’m looking forward to proving my doubters wrong—and hopefully inspiring others to go for what they believe in.

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How to Succeed in Advertising (and Life): Lessons from Ad Team

PN%20PHOTOWritten by: Peter Noble

Advertising is a team sport. And being successful in this arena isn’t just a matter of having ninja-like InDesign skills or being near-clairvoyant in media planning. Success is built on a foundation of basic personal characteristics and abilities.

Having coached 10 Ad Teams that competed in the National Student Advertising Competition (including two National Championship winners), I’ve found three essentials that contribute to personal and professional success — Focus, Accountability, and Communication. Each of these is important on its own, and when combined, they become a powerful base for navigating the world of teamwork.

It’s very easy to get distracted in today’s multi-screen, information/entertainment-rich environment. Multitasking isn’t the answer. It simply doesn’t work. When you divide your attention among several tasks at the same time you can’t effectively focus on the task at hand. Multitask planning is the solution to juggling multiple obligations. Prioritize and plan your work to fully engage in each individual area. Focusing on what’s important at the time allows you to give your work the full attention that’s necessary to do your best work within the required time allotment.


Trust and confidence on teams are the glue that holds everything together. If you accept an assignment, you have to deliver. Your and your team’s success depends on it. Delivery is measured both as a process and a product. It means that you get the work done in an efficient, friction-free manner, you submit high quality work, and you absolutely get it done by or before the agreed deadline. When you own the work and you deliver on quality and timeliness, you earn the team’s trust and confidence.


It’s ironic that despite the fact that we’re in the business of communication many of the common problems in a team environment are rooted in miscommunication. Effective communication starts with a clear understanding of what needs to get done, how it’s to be accomplished, and when it needs to be completed. Once that’s established, communication throughout the process of the work is essential. Simple things like asking for additional resources and providing updates on milestone events can ensure success.

Focus, accountability, and communication aren’t the only elements of success in this business, but mastery in those three basic areas will give you an edge in this fast-paced competitive environment. The same benefits apply to success in life.


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