Pacific photography alumnus inspires current students

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Some people question whether or not art has a promising outlook as a career. Head of Photography Department, Professor Jim Flory, is challenging that thought by presenting his students with alumni as guest speakers in his advanced photography classes.

“I want them to know from our alumni that there are jobs in the field after Pacific,” Flory said. “All of these speakers have found jobs in the Portland, Beaverton, Forest Grove area to do their photography.”

The first guest speaker was Ben Pigao, alumnus and Maui native, who has worked with companies such as Nike & Zoo York, and celebrities like J. Cole, Ellie Goulding and Kobe Bryant. He says his success stems from relationships, timing and a little bit of luck.

“The relationships you have allow you to have meaningful conversations that can lead to opportunities for favors” Pigao said.

That was how he landed his first project with Nike only a week after graduating from Pacific University. His boss, during an internship he had, was one of the art directors for Nike. Once his boss discovered Pigao also took photos he offered him a chance to work on a project.

“Talent is also a key point otherwise you will not even be considered,” Pigao said.

After working for Nike, Pigao left five years ago and started his own company. Empire Green is a creative agency in Portland producing digital content for sports & lifestyle brands. Under the tutelage of Flory, Pigao was at times frustrated. He wanted to learn more technical aspects of this craft, but looking back is glad Flory taught him the way he did. Through experience and teaching himself the technical skills he lacked on his own, he found success.

“The second reason is a lot of the time, alumni don’t feel the financial responsibility to be able to give money back to the university,” Flory said. “So I’ve found that this is a way for them to give something back to the university by coming every year and talking to my two advanced photography classes.”

Students were glad for Pigao’s honest words about the industry.

Flory hopes that these speakers will help plant the seed of hope in his students and they will see the arts as a continuing avenue and not a dead end.


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