Robert Rausch

Robert Rausch

FLORENCE -- Robert Rausch anticipated teaching would be part of his future. That future has arrived for the international photographer and designer behind GAS Design Center in Tuscumbia.

Rausch has been tapped to lead the University of North Alabama photography program on a full-time basis. He's been an adjunct professor for several years since relocating with his family to the Shoals in the early 2000s.

"I got my (master of fine arts) to teach, so I knew I wanted to teach but I didn't know when because I love what I do, as well," he said.

At UNA he will be charged with shaping a program that can prepare students to enter the broad world of professional photography. One of the assets he will call upon is the deep-rooted creativity in the Shoals.

"I really feel like because our community is so strong in the arts and a very global community there is no reason why we, UNA, can't have the best photography department in the South," Rausch said.

He spent many years living on the West Coast but has worked and studied on both coasts and in Europe, particularly Paris. He said those opportunities helped him understand the breadth of photography and the regional difference of working as a photographer. He'd like to replicate those experiences for UNA's photography students.

His editorial photography has appeared in the New York Times, Southern Living, Garden and Gun, and Food and Wine. He's also worked with national brands like Hilton Hotels, Whole Foods and Billy Reid.

Rausch will continue to work on personal professional projects even while teaching. That provides him professional fulfillment, but also will develop him as an instructor.

"Photography is one art field I know of that you have to continually keep up to date with technology and techniques," he said. "Those change every year. The industry has changed so much since I first started."

He begins his UNA post with the fall semester in August.

"Photography is so wide," he said. "You can do medical photography, fashion photography, food photography and so much more. I can't prepare students for every field. My goal is to give them an extremely strong foundation so they know their craft, and they know the equipment.

"I can teach them the tools, the technology and the rules of photography. I teach those rules not so they will stay in some sort of box, but you need to learn the rules so you can know how to break them."

jennifer.edwards@TimesDaily.com or 256-740-5754. Twitter @TD_JEdwards.

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