We love supporting the University Photographers’ Association of America (UPAA). This group is packed with incredible talent, and we look forward to catching up with these amazing university photographers every year.
Now, the annual UPAA conference is less than a month away, and it’s time to start a countdown.
We asked four university photographers to answer five questions, and we’ll share their answers with you as we count the days until we’re all together again in Allendale, Michigan.
We’re kicking it off with some inspiration. We asked: What’s a cool project you’ve been working on – personally or professionally? Tell us how it came about, why it matters to you, and how you hope it will move your audience. Here’s what they had to say!
Cydney Scott, Boston University
For BU Today, Boston University’s online news and marketing site, I just finished a photo essay about life on campus between the hours of 10PM and 2AM. It was a challenging project considering its timing. To avoid wandering aimlessly, a lot of planning went into each of the shoots (when exactly does maintenance begin mopping the floor of the campus chapel?). I tried to schedule at least three scenarios I could shoot each time I came to campus for this project, none posed. I was amazed at how lively the campus was during those hours, and that liveliness kept me wide awake and excited to shoot (until I’d crash and have to call it). I think I came to campus seven times over a few weeks for the project.
Donny Crowe, Louisiana Tech University
My campus, Louisiana Tech University, was recently hit by an F-3 class tornado. Upon arriving at campus that morning, I was completely taken aback by what I was in front of me. Some of the buildings I have been working at for over 35 years were demolished. No longer safe to be in. I was taking images showing others not able to be on site just what happened around 1:35 a.m. to parts of our campus. Just nights before when leaving a baseball game, I stopped, turned around and looked at a very old live oak tree just inside the ballpark entrance. I thought of how long it had been there and how much it had grown over my years working here. The tree is still there but with major damage and of course will never be the same again. The rebuilding process has already started but no one can really know how long it will take.
I’m proud of my photo coverage because it gave the outside word a glimpse of the damage on our campus. It also serves as proof of damage for any insurance, state and federal funds for rebuilding. The afternoon of the storm our team was able to set up sites with using photos so our alumni, or anyone for that matter, could give to help start the rebuilding process. I had a conversation with a videographer who was doing the same thing I was, recording the damage for present and future use. We talked about if we should have put down our camera gear and joined in with a chainsaw, rake or something to help in the cleanup. We both came to the conclusion that we were doing a job as necessary as cutting up the fallen trees and cleaning up the sites.
Samantha Strahan, Ball State University
Currently, I’m not working on any projects. I’m actually typing this while on a flight to Ireland for an early anniversary/late honeymoon with my husband! I do have a few ideas I’d like to try when I return home, though: giving the intramural/club sports some love, highlighting student activities, and especially working with Outdoor Pursuits. Outdoor Pursuits is an organization on campus that provides students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community opportunities to learn and participate in outdoor activities that they would not otherwise have the chance to experience. They travel all over the country experiencing hiking, rock climbing, camping and more. As a student, I never knew about the program. I want to increase awareness for it so others don’t miss out on great opportunities.
Kristen Grace, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida
The most recent project I’ve been working on is covering monarchs and the natural
phenomenon of their annual winter migration to the fir forests of central Mexico.
My hope is that by sharing the photos and video footage I captured on this trip, it will inspire
others to care about the plight of the monarch butterfly and garner a greater appreciation for
biodiversity in general. I feel that if we cannot be motivated to protect butterflies, I’m not sure
what we can get motivated about to protect. This phenomenon is one of the many wonders of
the world. These butterflies migrate over 3,000 miles and spend the winter months clustered in
the hundreds of millions in the fir forests of the Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico until the
spring when they come out of reproductive diapause, mate and begin their journey back north.
Butterflies are an indicator species. If there are large die-offs of this species, then a lot of other
species are in trouble. These butterflies face several challenges including habitat loss,
deforestation in Mexico and climate change. We must pay attention to their well-being to
understand the importance of their existence, as well as the importance of protecting and
preserving biodiversity on this planet.
Now it’s your turn!
So, what’s a cool project you’ve been working on – personally or professionally? Share your work with us @getlibris!