June 29, 2010

More Behind The Photos

Last week we spoke with Ben Rutkowski '09 and Lauri Robertson '75 about their photos for the Alumnae/i Quarterly's "9 Views: A Day in the Life of Vassar." Here is what photographer and alumnus Ryan Muir '06 had to say about his photographs and the story behind them.

Mads Vassar: Did you plan ahead of time what you were going to shoot or was it spontaneous? What was your process?

Ryan Muir: Each photographer had been given some specific assignments, as well as the opportunity to propose our own ideas. In each case, we were each assisted by a liaison to help facilitate sitting in on classes, getting release forms signed, making appointments with faculty outside of class hours, and anything extraneous like that. On the actual date of shooting everyone had some amount of downtime to explore... but there were a few last minute assignments to fill on campus... I ended up starting in the late morning and working until late into the night... I saw most of the campus in-between breaths.

What was it like being back at Vassar as a photographer rather than only an alumnus or student?
I haven't been out of school that long, so in many ways it felt comfortable and homey, but enough about my life has changed since graduation that I really don't relate to a student mentality anymore either. It was an unusual sensation but it was much easier from a working perspective to treat students and members of the Vassar community as regular subjects rather than think of them as peers.

When taking pictures, were you drawn to places you had gone as a student or did you see the campus in a new perspective?

I was drawn to places that I knew the least, or may have had minimal access to. As a photographer I would welcome the opportunity to explore as much as possible and photograph something new or see something literally from a new perspective. Unusual and obscure locations like the Observatory, and subjects like the VRDT dance company were more compelling topics than things I had already photographed exhaustively.

Which was your favorite photograph that was published?

I'm pleased with the two experimental dance photos at the bottom of the second spread, as the results were hard to predict. But as tough as it is to have a favorite i think I enjoy the photo of the Library on the first spread the most because it is a more typical example of the graphically striking and environmentally rich photographs I think I am best at capturing.

Were you disappointed that any photographs weren't published?

Of course, every photographer has their darlings, but I think the editors did a good job curating the overall photo essays and recognized... what the most successful images were.
Photos via Alumnae/i Quarterly.

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