Don’t Call It a Comeback Tour: Always remember your roots

There was a sense of familiarity in ending up in a pit with my camera. It brought back memories of moving around in front of the stage while trying to capture the best possible images. And the best part was knowing that everything was going to pay off at the end of the day. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

Why do we do what we do? That’s a question that a lot of people ask throughout their lives. And it’s a question that’s thrown around the newsroom a lot at The Daily Campus. The Daily Campus is a student fee-funded newspaper. We do what we do because we want the UConn student body to understand what is happening across campus. A lot of us who work there, however, do so with a little ulterior motive. The Daily Campus serves as practice for the work that we want to do when we graduate.

How does this relate to me? I don’t really talk about why I first got involved with the Daily Campus all those years ago. I tell the bland story about how I’ve been interested in photography since high school. Sophomore year I decided to join the paper and the rest is history. That story is only mostly true. It just leaves out the driving forces.

This weekend, I had the awesome privilege to cover the Meadows Music and Arts Festival in Queens, New York. Covering the show was amazing. I got to cover and see so many talented artists like Weezer, Future, Gorillaz and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Covering that festival also reminded me why I joined the Daily Campus.

Remember back in high school when everyone was getting into the music and band scene? All of us were getting permission from our parents to see shows at our favorite small venues that somehow existed in our town. All your friends (and maybe even you) were joining bands and planning basement shows. Remember what I’m talking about? There was just one small problem with me joining a band: I played the viola and was not that good at guitar. For a few years I just went to band shows and cheered my friends on as they did cool things.

Then, at the end of junior year of high school, I got my own camera. It was a dinky little Canon point-and-shoot but to me it was great. I started taking photos of everything and after a year, I got my first DSLR: a Nikon D3100. While all this was happening, my friends were still playing in bands and no longer just doing house shows. My friends now needed someone to help them market their brand so they could open for bands at venues like the Webster in Hartford and the Paladium in Worcester, MA.

So I became their photographer and got to cover some cool bands. When I came to The Daily Campus, the only thing that I wanted to do was take photos of concerts and bands. And my seniors at the time helped me pursue that. My photo editor at the time, Jon Kulakofsky, would send me videos of current music photographers showing off how they covered shows. Other photographers showed me how to photograph under stage lights and how to edit those images so they looked really good.

All of that teaching led to the work that I put out during and after the Meadows. The Meadows is one of the biggest things I’ve covered as a photographer, but to an extent, it was also like a homecoming for me. For the last two-ish years I’ve almost exclusively covered news and feature stories. This show reminded me of why I got into photography and joined the Daily Campus.

There was a sense of familiarity in ending up in a pit with my camera. It brought back memories of moving around in front of the stage while trying to capture the best possible images. And the best part was knowing that everything that I learned, everything I had fought through to get here was going to pay off at the end of the day. I would get to experience an amazing show and later everyone else would get to experience a little bit of what I saw by looking at the images.

I guess the moral of this story is to always remember your roots. Remember why you do whatever it is you do or are planning on doing. I got into music photography to hang out with my friends and stayed because I wanted to share my world with others. What you do may change throughout your life, but the roots of everything you do won’t. So don’t ever forget your roots, you have no idea where they’ll take you.


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