Through A Lens: A photographer’s swan song

"Lazy Boy On Campus" is a weekly column on how to embrace laziness while maintaining a jam packed schedule. Easy, right?

The Lazy Boy author reflects back on his three years working as a photographer and a writer for the Daily Campus. He credits his time at the student newspaper for inspiring him to pursue a career in photojournalism. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

The Lazy Boy author reflects back on his three years working as a photographer and a writer for the Daily Campus. He credits his time at the student newspaper for inspiring him to pursue a career in photojournalism. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

Seventy-two, four, a couple thousand…probably. That’s the number of written stories, photo essays and pictures I’ve had published by the Daily Campus over my three years. That’s the number of times somebody has written “Amar Batra” on some story or picture credit in the paper or online. And in a few days, that will never happen again. In just over a week, I’ll depart UConn and every single story will become an “Archived Story” and every single photo credit will read “File Photo/The Daily Campus.” In a few more months, a new batch of freshman will join the paper and a new Daily Campus will be born. Hopefully, their experience will be just as cool as mine.

If you haven’t already realized from my numerous columns, I like expressing things using numbers; and there is a really good reason for that. I’m a math-stats major here and unlike most people, I loved math ever since I learned that two and two could be combined together to create four. What made math especially cool was that you could work through many different ways to find a solution. That kind of problem-solving and technical thinking pushed me into the degree that I’m trying to finish up now.

There is, however, something else I really like to do. As most people know, I really like to talk and tell stories. In fact, in elementary and middle school, I used to get in trouble for talking too much. As I got older, I decided to channel that need to share with others into a fun hobby of mine: photography. Eventually, I found my way to UConn, and because of photography I eventually found my way to the Daily Campus.

If you had told me my freshman year that come senior year I would be pursuing a career as a photojournalist, I would have laughed in your face. The Daily Campus was just supposed to be a creative outlet for me. A place to take a break from the mind-numbingly hard mathematics that I claimed to love so much and a place to improve upon my hobby. So I guess the first thank you’s go to Jon Kulakofsky, Troy Caldeira and Steve Quick, the three seniors from my first year at the paper. Jon, Troy and Steven all taught me the fundamentals of photojournalism and were the first to tell me that maybe I had some potential in this field. It was the three of them that planted the photojournalism seed in me.

After they graduated, I started to get more involved at the Daily Campus and now it’s become a second home to me. So much so that I was named “Most Likely to be at the Daily Campus” at last year’s banquet. Since becoming involved with the paper, I have photographed almost every single sport played at this school, covered HuskyTHON for three years and was able to meet some of the coolest student leaders on this campus. I’ve written for every single section except for news and was involved with production. With the prodding of two of my former editors, Ashley Maher and Bailey Wright, I even started taking photojournalism courses. So you could say that as much as I’ve gotten involved with the paper, it’s gotten involved with me.

As I sit here writing this, I’m watching Bailey Wright and a friend edit a massive video for a visual journalism class. Prior to this, I was making the last Daily Campus video that I will ever create. Not a day goes by that I don’t do something that is somehow connected to visual journalism, and I have the Daily Campus to thank for that.

Nothing that I write can really sum up three years with the Daily Campus. Nothing can sum up walking into a place where so many people want to help you grow and help you reach your full potential. As my friend and former Managing Editor Matt Zabierek used to say, the Daily Campus is a learning experience for the future. The Daily Campus is a place where student journalists can learn and practice their craft in order to become professional journalists in the future. If you’ve been following the news lately you know that we need journalists more than ever.

Most of you guys who read my stories on Thursday know that I normally write about how to be lazy on campus.  But the Daily Campus was the one place where I was fine with not being lazy. Sure I took a few naps in the office, maybe even slept overnight there, but the work I put out was always something that I would be happy about. It was something that I was always happy to put my name on and say, “Yeah, I helped make this.” Seeing that physical copy or seeing the story on the website made staying up sometimes all through the night completely worth it.

In 10 days I will walk across a stage, accept my diploma, shake someone’s hand, pose for pictures with friends and family and then leave UConn. I will close the door on my time at UConn and the Daily Campus forever and by doing so, I’ll be at a crossroads. My parents and family are of course pushing me towards the path that brings the most money (a.k.a. corporate America) and I’m not going to lie, it’s a pretty tempting road. It’s a chance at leading a comfortable, normal life.

But “comfortable” and “normal” don’t make good stories, and I don’t know if you remember but I love telling stories. That brought me to UConn; it took me halfway around the world; it brought be to journalism classes and it brought me to you, the UConn student body. It allowed me to tell your story the way it deserved to be told.

So I don’t think I’ll be hanging up my press pass just yet. I might be leaving the Daily Campus behind, but I’m not leaving empty-handed: I have a ton of memories and a few terabytes of photos. I don’t really know where my camera is going to take me, but as long as I get to tell someone’s story it really doesn’t matter to me.

It’s been a privilege to work with every single editor, writer, photographer, copy editor, producer and designer at the Daily Campus. There are too many of you to thank right here, but I will never forget everything that you have done for me.

And for every single student who has let me tell their story, thank you. You’ve helped me and the Daily Campus become who we are today. It’s been a privilege serving all of you. Hopefully, I can tell your stories again soon.


Amar Batra is a senior staff photographer and opinion’s staff columnist for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email amar.batra@uconn.edu. He tweets at @amar_batra19.