Students studying in front of the bright windows in the Coffee Closet
Here's a photo I took of students studying at Coffee Grounds

In the past two weeks, I’ve started the majority of my interactions with people by saying, “Hey, I’m doing a shoot for the Communications Office, would you mind if I took some pictures of you *insert activity*?” Each time, I hoped that what started off as a semi-awkward interaction between a group of strangers would result in pictures that showcased students using some of the most charming spaces on campus.

This all started when the College’s video and multimedia producer and photographer, Miles Ladin ’90, asked if I would take pictures of campus for an email that would be sent out to accepted students. As an amateur photographer who only wants to learn and improve upon his work, of course I agreed. The very next day I began walking around campus scouring the cafes and coffee shops for the golden shot. Perhaps the funniest and most amusing part of this task was the staging. The purpose of the photo shoot was to showcase students casually using these spaces, to get shots of people laughing, socializing, working and interacting. Sometimes though, this requires a few requests so that the shot comes out perfectly. Luckily, I did find a few friends in Oasis, our campus cafe/snack shop located in the College Center at Crozier-Williams, who were already talking. However, I didn’t have the same luck in any of the coffee shops, but that didn’t turn out to be an obstacle.

One of the reasons I chose to attend Conn was the students. My first time on campus, people I hadn’t ever seen or met before were incredibly warm and welcoming, qualities that are sometimes hard to come by between strangers. This same standard held up during the few days I spent taking pictures. As I walked around campus and camped out at each of the coffee shops, I scanned the room for people who were hard at work or talking to friends. I even turned my lens toward the baristas to try to catch the perfect moment of them making a drink or handing one to a customer. Of course I asked everyone before I took their picture if they were okay with it, but the same thing happened each time I asked. Even though every person I asked to take pictures of agreed, each one of them suddenly tensed up and began laughing after I asked them to continue what they were doing before I interrupted them. I tried explaining to them the purpose of the shots and that they weren’t required to do anything extra, to just act normal. Hilariously enough, that didn’t alleviate the pressure.

For me, the best part about this entire process was having the ability to do something I’m so passionate about, while also briefly getting to know each person in front of the camera. Taking these shots required and allowed me to talk to people I might’ve never struck up a conversation with before. Hopefully, these small connections will last, and the next time people see me perusing places on campus with my camera they’ll know exactly why.