Reflecting on college through the lens of a camera

Final musings of a Collegian photographer

Reflecting+on+college+through+the+lens+of+a+camera

By Katherine Mayo, Assistant Photo Editor

After three and a half years of working at a newspaper, this is the only article I will have ever written. It’s a daunting task and a little outside of my comfort zone, so please bear with me. But if a picture really is worth a thousand words, I guess I’ve written plenty over the years.

My interest in photography began my junior year of high school. I received my first DSLR as a high school graduation gift and began searching for photography opportunities at my soon-to-behome — the University of Massachusetts. That’s when I stumbled upon the Massachusetts Daily Collegian.

I should preface this by saying that I’m not a journalism or studio arts major. Inside the classroom, I’m a computer science and economics student. Without any real experience in photojournalism, I felt a little out of my depth my first year with the Collegian. I was a quiet freshman in an office with people seemingly much more skilled than I was and with much more experience. But I stuck with it and soon saw my skills begin to develop. I owe much of my current photography skill to the past couple of photo editors, whose work and guidance have helped me fine-tune my skills. The lessons I learned from their work helped give me the qualifications to serve as an assistant editor for two years.

Being behind the lens has given me a unique perspective on campus life. Through the lens of a camera, I try to capture all the little moments at UMass, as well as the big. As a Collegian photographer, I get the chance to experience a variety of campus events with a variety of people. The chance to experience all the diversity this campus has to offer has been fundamental in shaping my perspective as a UMass student.

Now as my time with the Collegian comes to a close and I reflect on my time with the paper, I am grateful for all the opportunities being a Collegian photographer has given me. The unique chance to share other people’s stories, to bring awareness to important issues and to document campus life for the history books has been a defining characteristic of my college career. To me, my work with the Collegian is as much my legacy on this campus as my academic work. Over three and a half years I have covered roughly 180 events for the Collegian, including two spring concerts, two Super Bowl riots and four protests. Ninety-two of the events were UMass athletics games — 34 basketball and 31 soccer games, with two trips to the Atlantic 10 men’s basketball tournament. Out of these events, it’s impossible to choose which has been my favorite, but I know I enjoyed every second.

If I can offer one piece of advice to others, it would be to find something you’re passionate about and make time to pursue it. It can be hard as a college student to make time for anything except for coursework, especially when our hobbies do not align with our courses of study. But throughout my college years, my photography has not only been my hobby, but my refuge. When life gets stressful, I can always step away and pick up my camera instead. Photographing for the Collegian pushed me to be involved in campus life and make the most of my time at UMass. For this and a million other reasons, I will greatly miss being a Collegian photographer.

In closing, I’d like to leave you with my favorite photography quote, which I feel embodies the lessons I have learned throughout my time at the Collegian:

“There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.” – Ernst Haas

Katherine Mayo was an assistant photo editor and can be reached at [email protected]