Joan Dooley


Photography Teacher, National Board Certified
Humanitas Academy of Art & Technology
4211 Dozier Street | East LA, CA 90063

A fine art documentary photographer & art historian, my style has been described as “decisive moment meets Jan Vermeer.” I am especially interested in exploring and capturing the "off" moments that reveal authentic emotions and narratives. In my search for rich and vibrant images, I thoroughly enjoy the process of investigating, discovering, framing, and preserving pieces of reality in all their diversity and fluidity. For me, that process is always one of self-discovery and enlightenment as I learn so much from the people and places I encounter. In my portraits, I strive for a humanist approach. My main goal is always to dig below the public personae that most people put on for photographs and to reveal the inner spirit that lies beneath. The photographers who continue to inspire me most are the legendary icons of street photography of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, from Arbus, Levitt, and Frank to Cartier Bresson, Bravo and Winogrand.

Before moving to LA, I began to study Art, English and Art History. My university studies focused on the relationship of the histories of photography and painting. For 12+ years I was Assistant Curator of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu working closely with the Getty's world-class photo collection interpreting it for exhibition and publication.

Since 1999, I have taught photography full-time in Los Angeles for various inner-city public high schools. I currently teach at the Humanitas Academy of Art and Technology, a new public pilot high school in East Los Angeles. My own photography has received a number of awards including a recent international annual "World in Focus" competition sponsored by the National Geographic. I have also received many teaching awards including the Santa Fe Center's annual Patron Saint of Photography as well as Otis and CalArts Teacher of the Year.

My students earn many photography awards including national awards such as "Scholastic Art," "U.S. Congressional Art", the LA Film Festival and the prestigious the "LA Music Center Spotlight" Grand Prize. In 2011, I was honored by "Ovation TV" as the Southern California teacher-of-the-year for the most student art awards in any media.

My teaching website:


  • Photographer
  • Teacher
  • Museum Curator
  • Writer