I've been a big fan of "The Campus Beautiful" blog for some time now. It is a place where Eastern Kentucky's Chris Radcliffe can showcase his photos of EKU's diverse campus community. I recently asked Chris to explain why he started the blog and how he uses it to showcase his talents as a University Photographer:
When we first gathered a small group of people to discuss a possible redesign of our web presence I don’t think any of us realized what kind of shape it would take or how consuming it would be. We just knew it needed to be done and we were willing to do it. Let it be known that I had little to do with it other than some tiny input on the overall design. I basically just sat in the meetings and said “great idea!” to everyone (every group needs a cheerleader).
The photo blog, as I recall, was an early character in our homepage content discussions and it was born from an off-the-cuff conversation I had with the right guy (or wrong guy depending on the perspective) about my desire to have a place to stick photos that I liked that would otherwise never see the light of day. Seriously, how many great photos do we snap weekly that are NEVER seen? I just wanted something attached to our PR site that would also house general stock galleries and information about my services... but, the guy in charge of our group, Doug Cornett, Manager of Creative Services, thought it would be better to put a photo blog right on the homepage. I was flattered, but, I was initially against it because that kind of placement really intimidated me and I was worried about what it might become.
Overall, this blog has really brought a ton of satisfaction to my job. I take a lot of pride in the POTENTIAL of the collection I’m creating. It’s very exciting to know that on the (random) occasion I make a good photo... I have a home for it. It offers a feeling of completeness, you know what I mean? I will upload photos and check it on every web enabled device I have and look at them like I’ve never seen them before. Prior to the blog I’d shoot something... maybe get something I like... get pumped about it... but, have to send out another (lesser) photo because it showed more of the right people or whatever. Then, I’m bummed because I got this shot and it will live on my Drobo... never to be seen again. Unless, I think enough of it to enter it into the MIC (which, by the way, is an AWESOME creative outlet/inspiration in itself).
I think it goes without saying (but, I guess I’ll say it anyway) that every new initiative will go through some growing pains. The first year of it’s life the blog only saw about 12 posts, I think. Beside being busy all the time I was still very intimidated about showing my work. Plus, with the amount of general events and dinners I shoot... I just didn’t think they would be of interest to world at large. AND, I didn’t want to put up photos of one event and not another... how do I explain that? How do I tell someone “Well, your event just wasn’t as pretty as the other one... next time increase your budget for flowers and balloons.” Another thing, I get pretty obsessive about timeliness and consecutive order. If I shoot something that would make a great blog post but, I’m too busy to get it up that week... and then another week passes and I’ve shot another event that I want to blog... but, I haven’t blogged the other thing yet... I end up blogging neither. Sick, right? I’m messed up... it’s much more severe than I care to explain in this post.
Here’s another one; I might really like the football poster and want to blog that but, then I don’t like the soccer poster and don’t want to blog that... so, (guess what) I don’t blog any posters at all. Same with sports action in general. If I do one, I have to do them all. That’s a lot of work to think about. And the blog is (was) mostly extracurricular. Now it’s definitely become another thing that NEEDS to be done. Of all those things, however, the blog is one of the most fulfilling. Still, the most unfortunate thing about it is I have to put it in my schedule or I’ll always be too busy.
Currently I’m really focussing on creating content for it specifically. When I get (what I think is) a cool idea I don’t have to worry about finding a home for it or really trying to get people to buy into it. I just go do it then blog it. That feels good. I actually look forward to creating content for the blog. My coworkers see the value in it and they want more of it. I think I have about 8 posts since the start of school compared to the 12 I had all last year.
The future of the blog seems bright... until I say something stupid on it... or up the wrong photo... then both of us are going down.
Chris Radcliffe has been a University Photographer at Eastern Kentucky University since 2004. His work can be seen on the EKU Photo Blog at http://www.eku.edu/photo