Senior Column: Charlotte Lao

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Charlotte Lao is the outgoing photo editor for The Daily Campus.  Photo provided by author.

Charlotte Lao is the outgoing photo editor for The Daily Campus. Photo provided by author.

You know that feeling when you try something new, not really thinking too much about it, and now looking back at it, you know it has shaped you into who you are today? Like learning an instrument when you were younger, because it was something cool, and now it’s such an important part of you. Or trying out for a team because it was something fun to do, and now you’ve made your closest friends. Well, that’s how I feel about The Daily Campus. 

I remember walking down Fairfield Way trying to find the table for The Daily Campus. I made a subconscious promise to myself that I would join the school newspaper and take pictures because photography was a hobby of mine from high school. I knew I would get reeled into studying and school (I’m an engineer) if I didn’t join some club or organization for fun. So I signed up, went to my first Photo meeting and volunteered to cover volleyball. Then I went to the next meeting and shot soccer. 

I remember taking those events and thinking to myself that I have to get better at photography. It was just a distraction from classes and studying. I kept going to the meetings, even if they were at 10 p.m. on a Sunday. I didn’t even talk in the meetings. I just went to meetings, maybe took an event, and left. Then, there was this opportunity to take pictures of the women’s basketball game. Looking back at it now, it should have been obvious that the school newspaper would cover all sports, but back then, I thought it was crazy that students were able to take pictures of the No. 1 basketball team in the nation.

Freshmen Year in photos

After freshman year, I was told to apply to be the associate Photo editor and, surprisingly, I got it. That year, I was able to grow so much more as a photographer. I took events from soccer to football to basketball and then finally took pictures of UCONNIC with Khalid. I vividly remember that night, going back to my dorm to show my friends the pictures I was able to capture. I remember looking through the pictures on my computer and forgetting I was the one who took them. Looking back at it now, that was probably the moment where the obsession really started.  

I gained so much experience from what was supposed to just be a hobby. I became invested and started to care, not just about photography, but also about The Daily Campus. I wanted to create photographs that would tell stories. I went on to take more pictures, but with a different mindset.

Sophomore Year in photos

The next year, I went on to be the editor of the Photo section. My main goal was to create a community for other photographers to feel welcome, a place for people to grow. This hobby of photography was becoming more of an obsession. I surrounded myself with people who were also passionate about photography and it started to confuse me. I enjoyed capturing moments, sharing stories and spreading my passion to others. 

This was also the year where I questioned my major. I spent hours covering events and finding ways to avoid studying and I wasn’t even realizing it. People around me were asking why I don’t pursue photography professionally and I always brushed off those comments. In the back of my mind, I did want to do it, but couldn’t bring myself to do so.

Junior year was also the year I went to the NCAA Final Four in Florida to cover the men’s game. I got the same feeling as I had when I covered Khalid. I didn’t think it was real. I didn’t think this was my life. I was surrounded by so many other, better photographers. 

Junior Year in photos

Senior year came, and I just wanted to continue my goals with the Photo section, and also wanted to start a video department. This obsession of photography started to spread to video, and I realized I want to tell stories, whether that be photo or video (not writing, because I suck). The confusion with my future career continued to haunt me as my college experience was ending. I should have seen this coming when I wrote down my email to join the newspaper, but this is the best surprise I could have had at UConn. 

While I am confused and lost with what I want to do when I get out of here, I know The Daily Campus will always be a home full of people I can rely on. Those people would remind me to continue with this passion of photography, even if it’s not my career. Those people confuse me, but at the same time, give me clarity. Without them, it wouldn’t be so hard to leave this place.

Senior Year in photos


Charlotte Lao is the outgoing photo editor. She can be reached via email at charlotte.lao@uconn.edu.

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