Ronnie Brown Mansfield is an agent for change in the school administration of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In the course of his work as a middle school vice principal, he has been responsible for creating a safe school environment for all students. He has also been involved with teacher training, making sure that each educator has the resources to help students succeed in school and in life.

Brown attended the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He majored in Elementary Education and took his first professional job as a fourth- and fifth-grade math and science teacher. While he found being an educator rewarding, he gained an interest in joining the administration. Studying at night and on the weekends, he was able to receive a vice principal certification. His strong work ethic enabled him to attend night school while working a full day at school.

In addition to his work as an assistant principal, Brown coaches football, softball, and basketball. He believes strongly that athletic pursuits enhance a student’s experience and teach lessons that can only be learned on the field. He has also been an assistant football coach on the college level, working with wide receivers.

In his career as an educator and as a principal, Ronnie Brown Mansfield has upheld strong principles of hard work, respect, and communication. The teachers and staff members at his school respect him and look up to his example.

What is your hobby?

My hobby is photography. I love to capture new ways of looking at the world around me.

How did you get started with this hobby? What inspired you?

I got started with photography when I was a teenager. I used to take pictures for my high school newspaper. I learned to develop photos in the darkroom, and I took several art classes to develop my eye for composition. My newspaper advisor recommended that I take photography classes in college, but I wasn’t able to do so due to the demands of my Education degree. I am largely self-taught as a result.

Tell us what you love about it.

I love capturing special memories of the places I’ve been. I love RV travel with my family, and I take many photos of the landscapes in the places we visit. I also enjoy portrait photography with my family and pets. I especially love to capture majestic landscapes like those in our National Parks.

Are there any groups you’re a part of or events that you attend related to your hobby?

I attend a local photographer’s club. A few times a year, we get together to share a meal and enjoy looking at slideshows of each other’s work. It’s nice to have a place to share photos, other than online. I feel like I post so many scenic photos to Facebook, my friends and family are overwhelmed with them. My photography friends truly appreciate each shot.

Have you had to invest in equipment and if so, please share some of the things you’ve bought.

I have a lot of specialized photography equipment. Photography can be an expensive hobby. Since I’m an educator, I don’t have a lot of extra money to spend on these things. I do as much research as I can to make sure I am getting the most value for my dollar. Recently I bought a new tripod which has enhanced my ability to take landscape shots.

Where do you buy most of your supplies?

I buy most of my supplies online through Amazon. I like the deals and I like the Prime shipping. I also visit a local photography store from time to time.

Are there any good books for beginners?

I recommend Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson to all of my friends who are thinking about trying photography. It can be a little bit technical, but it walks novice photographers through the inner workings of their cameras. It’s a great book for when you are ready to graduate from taking photos with your smartphone to using a proper digital camera.

How has this changed your life?

Photography gives me something calming to focus on. Life as an assistant principal is stressful. There are always various conflicts that need to be managed. When I look at one of my photographs on the wall of my office, I’m reminded of the serenity I felt when I captured the images. This helps to ground me on the most difficult days.

What advice do you have for others starting out with this hobby?

I would advise that anyone who wants to start photography should take a beginner’s class through their local art school or adult education center. There’s no substitute for an expert’s guidance. I am largely self-taught myself, but I wish I had had the benefit of a teacher’s knowledge when I was starting out.

Are there any other hobbies you have?

Travel is my other major hobby. I love to take my wife and four kids on the road in our RV. Six people in an RV is a little bit of a squeeze, especially now that two of my children are grown. Even though we live in close quarters on the road, we enjoy spending time together. I usually plan our trips around the best photo opportunities, while my daughters suggest that we stop in cities with music festivals.