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Professor McGowan, a musician’s experience

Photography professor Ciaran McGowan was a musician in his 20s and 30s.

Benjamin Castro

Benjamin Castro

Melissa Maria Martinez, Times Staff

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“I could never make any money so I turned to photography and strangely enough photography worked.” McGowan said. “Photography worked as the music didn’t so I pursued the photography and ended up having all the major Hollywood recording studios as my client list.”

McGowan established his own successful business, shooting for famous recording studios in Hollywood.

“It was a small but it was successful,” McGowan said. “I didn’t like it, so I came back up to the bay area where I much preferred the pace of life.”

One day he noticed an ad for a part time teaching position at San Francisco City College and said that he thought he’d like to try that.

After a semester he was hooked.

“I just loved teaching, so I got more part time work in different colleges,” McGowan said.

In 1998 he was offered a job at San Jose City College.

“The funny thing was that I was offered a job at San Jose City and I was also the opening act for Bob Dylan and Van Morrison,” McGowan said.

At age 42 McGowan had to decide between giving it another go with music or taking a steady job with benefits.

“I picked the steady job with benefits,” McGowan said, “so now I proudly work for San Jose City College and just occasionally play concerts.”

McGowan performed at the Theater on San Pedro Square Tuesday, Oct. 11.

“It was amazing, honestly it was better than I expected to be honest,” Christian Bravo a 23-year-old  SJCC student said.

Out of McGowan’s experiences emerges an important life lesson.

“You’ve got to give any artistic endeavor your most enthusiastic years but it the forces aren’t with you, which often times they are not, don’t rely on it. Get a degree.” McGowan said. “If you start ending up in your late 30s as I did, without any money, it’s time to get off that horse and ride a different one.”

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Professor McGowan, a musician’s experience