Roger Kingston once said, “A camera is the ‘save button’ for the mind’s eye.” It is no wonder that I became a photographer during my time here, because my experiences at the Massachusetts Daily Collegian and the University of Massachusetts are ones I never want to forget.
Joining UMass as a freshman journalism major in 2014, I already knew that I wanted to be involved in campus media. I went to the Collegian’s open house, surprised to find that an actual newspaper was produced out of a dimly lit office in the basement of the Campus Center. But that seemingly dark office, with all of its quirks, would become my workspace, hangout spot and home…eventually. After writing my first article, a piece for the Arts section titled, “The best ways to decorate your dorm room,” (really hard-hitting journalism), I took a hiatus from the Collegian to explore other campus media such as UVC TV 19. However, I finally found my way back to the basement my sophomore year, this time as a photographer.
I had an internship at a newspaper the summer before my sophomore year, where I had to take my own photos to go along with my stories. It got me hooked. I loved the way visual journalism felt, and how I could see, interpret and talk about a story through my lens. In the fall of my junior year, I became an assistant photo editor for the Collegian, finding feature photos for the front page and proudly manning the photo desk on Monday nights. The following semester, I became the photo editor, a position I had admired since I started photographing for the paper.
The past two semesters of being the photo editor for one of the largest college daily newspapers in New England have been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in my life so far. From engaging with my fellow students and telling their stories through my lens, to becoming a copy editor, to photographing celebrities like Flo Rida and Mike Posner and shooting football at Fenway Park, it has been an amazing journey. There have been ups and downs (getting hit in the face and breaking a lens when a hockey puck went through the photo hole at Mullins wasn’t a shining moment), but I wouldn’t trade my time on staff for anything. I love being able to look back at my college experience and have a physical legacy of what I did with my time here.
To have a place on campus where you can express yourself, work with some of your best friends and have a sense of community is so special. My only regret is that I did not participate even more, and sooner in my college career.
And now that I am leaving the place I have called home for the past two years, 2,068 submitted photos later, all I can say is thank you. Thank you for existing, for the late nights and for preparing me for a life and career of doing what I love.
There is a saying that if you want to know what someone fears losing, or alternatively, what they care about, you should look at what they photograph. If you looked at my camera right now, you would see many pictures of a windowless basement in the Campus Center, along with these hardworking people I’m honored to call family.
Jessica Picard was the Head Photo Editor.