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Interview: MAC Group National Manager of Educational Markets Brenda Hipsher


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BY Aimee Baldridge September 10, 2014 · Published by PhotoVideoEDU

The photo industry veteran and PhotoVideoEDU national manager talks about how the program is responding to the needs of students and educators in the rapidly changing world of photography and filmmaking.

Aimee Baldridge: What is your background in photography?

Brenda Hipsher: I started learning photography by turning my grandmother’s bathroom into a darkroom when I was nine, and I’ve worked in the photo industry my entire career. So it’s been my privilege to see the industry evolve over the decades. I’ve been with MAC Group for 20 years, and I was part of the group that created PhotoVideoEDU. Every position I’ve been in has had an educational component as well. That’s always been part of my job.

AB: What has been distinctive about PhotoVideoEDU from the beginning?

Brenda Hipsher: We didn’t just put out a discount program and say to students, “Come buy our stuff.” What we’ve endeavored to do over the years is to partner with educators, institutions, and students themselves to bring real value to them by giving them an opportunity to use the products hands-on, to learn about how to use them, and to learn about how they’re used in real-life contexts by different kinds of photographers. This is the thing that’s always been unique about PhotoVideoEDU.

Now, in the digital age, we’re fostering an online community where students and educators from many different institutions can come together. One thing we learned years ago was how important it is for educators and students to share ideas and camaraderie through our programs. So we continue to provide that kind of community online and across the country.

We have more opportunities for networking and community building with digital media than we’ve ever had before. We live with the irony that digital media in some ways separates us, but also gives us opportunities to be in a community with people who are in different geographic areas. And that kind of diversity in our community is really what enhances the relationships that we build.

AB: How do you see the role of PhotoVideoEDU evolving as the world of education and the photography and video markets change?

Brenda Hipsher: Video is obviously a huge seismic shift, just as moving from analog to digital was a major change in the industry. So we’ll be providing many more modules for sharing information about using products to create video content as well as still photography content. There’s a lot of overlap there, but in some cases there’s a lot of specialization. There are a lot of opportunities for us to provide support for educators as they work to keep up with developments and pass rapidly changing information on to their students. We’re also providing training and hands-on experience with new products as they come to the market.

AB: What’s on the horizon for PhotoVideoEDU?

Brenda Hipsher: We have a new catalog that will be delivered to schools very shortly, and we have three new posters coming out as the school year begins. We continue to work on our social media communities. We are streamlining the purchase process to make it even easier for students to make purchases through the program.

We’ll continue to highlight Featured Programs and Featured Students on the website and through our social networks. We think that’s a valuable way to help people share their work, learn about different institutions, and build our community.

And, of course, we will continue to visit schools so that we can meet and get to know the educational community as well as bring them the hands-on experience of using some of the highest quality products in the photo and video imaging industry today. This is an exciting time in the imaging industry and I am delighted to be working with educators and students in this dynamic environment.


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