I still remember being a freshman photographer for the Petit Jean. I came to Harding with lots of photography experience but no publications experience whatsoever. I remember vividly sitting in chapel one day next to Ken Bissell, Harding’s director of photo services. We were both there to shoot the speaker, and I took a few shots and put my camera down in my lap because I had my photos. I realized Ken was still shooting. As he took photos I watched through my camera because I had no idea what he was seeing that I was missing or why he was picking the exact moments that he was snapping the shutter. I soon realized that he was snapping specific expressions and hand gestures. I followed his example and my photos were better. I started watching other photographers work to see what I could learn. It worked for me because my sophomore year I got the assistant photographer’s job and a small scholarship to take photos. Those two years were by far the most photographically educational years of my life. I still rely on lessons I learned as a Petit Jean photographer.
My junior and senior years at Harding I was a married student so I didn’t have time to give to the Petit Jean. I still was able to work as a student photographer for Leslie Downs in the Public Relations Office. Just before i graduated Leslie decided to go back to school, and I was hired as director of photo services.
For the last 21 years, I have had the privilege of working with many student publication photographers. It is so satisfying to watch them come and work and mature as a photographer just as I did way back in the 1900s as one of my student photographers used to tease me. These guys and gals have been invaluable in helping me cover the numerous jobs that come up every year, but more importantly they are my friends. I miss them when they leave, and I love seeing them when they return to campus for visits.
The great thing about photography is there will always be new photos to take and there will always be new photographers coming to help.
Jeff Montgomery, photographer
Tags: Petit Jean