I went to UCONNIC last week.
Actually, it would be more accurate to say that I covered UCONNIC last week. It was great to get back into Gampel to shoot a concert, especially because the last time I went to Gampel to shoot one, the main act didn’t show up (RIP Spring Concert 2017). For what it’s worth, I had a great time. The food and the openers were pretty good. Khalid, was of course, fantastic. His entire set was magical and it captivated the huge crowd within Gampel. Everything from the light show, to his dance moves, to the movement of the crowd, all of it contributed to the photos I got to take. It was a great night to spend with friends.
It was also something bigger. For the first time in a while, I got to return to my roots.
I first got interested in photography when I took a trip to Thailand the summer before my senior year of high school. My dad had recently got a new camera, so I got the old family point-and-shoot and went nuts. Throughout the next year I learned everything there was to learn about the basics of photography. Right before I went off to college, I got my own DSLR and I used my freshmen year to start learning about editing and experimenting around. It wasn’t, however, until the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of college that I got my first exposure to the real world of photography.
In high school all of my friends were in bands. I spent a lot of weekends in high school going to shows at small venues across my town. That summer, all of my friends were still in bands. They had just moved on to bigger venues. They were opening at places like the Palladium in Worcester and the Webster Underground in Hartford. And you know what every good band needs? A photographer. I was already going to those shows so I decided to just bring my camera along with me. That summer I ran around photographing as many shows as I could. I also took standard band photos and tried out new editing techniques. It was the most fun I had even had.
After that I decided that I wanted to be a band photographer. When I joined the Daily Campus, I tried to cover as many shows as possible. I covered small shows hosted by WHUS and even covered some orchestra concerts just to get used to shooting under stage lights. My editors even went as far as to send me videos of concert photographers like Adam Elmakais showing how they would go about covering a concert. Last fall I had the opportunity to travel on behalf of the Daily Campus to the Meadows Music & Arts Festival in New York City. It was entire weekend of covering some of the greatest artists on the planet. I was in heaven.
I felt the same way while I was covering UCONNIC. There are no real words to describe how I was feeling as I took photos there. It was just good, pure fun.
Eventually I want to be able to call myself a human rights photographer. It was a change I realized last year when I was working on “#HereToStay: An undocumented student’s story.” Covering those difficult sometimes makes you forget why you do what you do. I got into photography because I wanted to have fun telling stories. There are going to be hard stories and there are going to be very hard stories. Covering UCONNIC, however, reminded me that at some point, no matter what story I cover, I’m going to have find some kind of enjoyment.
Returning to my roots has finally cemented for me that photojournalism is the future that I want for myself.
Amar Batra is a senior staff photographer and weekly columnist for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email email@example.com. He tweets at @amar_batra19.