By Carson Lewis | Assistant Digital Managing Editor
Baylor Photography provides a variety of content for the university, and despite some minor challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, has been proceeding without much trouble.
Usually working from the university’s Clifton Robinson Tower before the pandemic, student workers for the department were issued kits with a camera body and lenses at the start of this year and were instructed to upload their photos electronically.
The department, under the University’s Marketing and Brand Strategy team, has evolved over the years. Under the watch of Robbie Rogers and Matthew Minard, Director of Photography and Assistant Director of Photography respectively, who joined the team around the same time in 2005, the organization developed in a way to provide what an authentic view of campus to an outside audience.
“When you see a marketing team, you’re expecting this one-sided message, and one thing we’ve always stayed true to is being authentic,” Rogers said. “There are good times and bad at Baylor — we’re being authentic.”
Minard said that Rogers’ and his experience in the field of journalism helped to set a strong basis for the department’s focus on storytelling.
“Both [Rogers’] and I’s backgrounds are in Journalism. We both worked in newspapers … We’ve always had the mindset when we came to Baylor that we want to be storytellers,” Minard said. “It’s always about the people that are here.”
Despite the high quality of the photos produced, Rogers and Minard said that many of the student workers who come to be employed in their office aren’t professional photographers, and a lot of training for the task comes through on-the-job learning.
“We get them on board, and within a couple weeks we have them knowing everything about camera exposure, getting out on campus, and taking on a creative side that a lot of them have really never thought too much about because they’re so involved in their studies,” Minard said. “Very rarely do we ever take on photography students. Most of the time it’s students from the sciences, or engineering or the business school.”
One of the student photographers who works with Rogers and Minard is Cedar Park doctoral student Aadil Sheikh, who has worked with the department since leaving The Baylor Roundup staff.
Sheikh said the training at the Roundup prepared him for the work he’s currently doing. He said that in order to catch authentic photos, he has to blend in.
“A lot of it is capturing the moment. If I’m there, I don’t want people trying to fake their reaction to something,” Sheikh said.
Sheikh has photographed some iconic views, especially when related to McLane Stadium’s biggest games. While the amount of opportunities for photographers to work inside the stadium during games this year is limited, Sheikh covered a lot of last year’s Football success, with some photos coming from outside the sporting cathedral of the Stadium.
In one photo, taken at the close-fought game against West Virginia on Halloween, Sheikh took a long exposure shot of the stadium as fireworks exploded.
“I convinced Matt and Robbie that ‘Hey, let me take photos of the fireworks from the bridge.’ This is one of my favorite vantage points, because not only do you get McLane Stadium, but you also get the river and the bridge in the background,” Sheikh said.
While the pandemic might make shots like this less common to come by for student workers, Rogers and Minard believe their department will continue telling stories, and making students feel like they fit in the Baylor community.
“That is one of our goals, is to really be a place where you could believe you can be here,” Rogers said. “I mean that’s what I want for every student at Baylor — is to fit here, and to find their place, and to find what they’re supposed to do.”