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Baylor University’s Smaller Departments Became Greater During the Pandemic May 12, 2021

Posted by Mia Moody-Ramirez in : Uncategorized , trackback

By Joshua McSwain

Many of Baylor University’s smaller departments took on more responsibilities during the pandemic. Robbie Rogers, director of photography, had to adapt to the quickly changing campus environment.

“My two favorite words in photojournalism are intentional and intimate,” Rogers said. “How are you intimate when you’re 6 feet away from people? The faces and that intimacy of people being together are what brings the story together.”

Rogers said that although the pandemic removed a level of intimacy from the photos, his photography team was still responsible to produce the same amount of content, if not more. Alongside COVID-19 restrictions, large events such as the Final Four were not accessible to Baylor photographers.

“Typically, any other year, we would have been in Indianapolis,” Rogers said. “This year, we didn’t only because access has been so restricted.”

However, these restrictions were also imposed on Baylor’s own turf. In a normal year, Rogers extensively covered individual athletes and had field access to each game, but was denied access numerous times this year.

“While I had field access, we didn’t go onto the field at all,” Rogers said. “No contact with student athletes. As a matter of fact, if the ball were to touch us, they would take them out of play. It was difficult to see the team going out on the field, and I couldn’t do the same.”

With the position of being the director of photography, Rogers is tasked with being the “eyes” of the university and to show how COVID-19 is being dealt with around campus. Early in the school year, Rogers said most of his work revolved around showing what 6 feet looks like, utilizing different creative outlets to convey these themes including multiple photoshoots with Baylor President Linda Livingstone.

However, according to Rogers, the commentary has slowly changed at the university. Early in the pandemic, any photo where a student was mask-less without social distancing could not be used.

“If you went back to six or eight months ago and watched social media of somebody without a mask on, you’d see an outcry,” Rogers said. “I don’t think we’re relaxing things because that wouldn’t be fair, but I think the commentary has changed.”

Regarding normalcy, when asked about what he looks forward to the most, he said the people.

“I’m absolutely a believer in science and I’m a supporter of wearing masks,” Rogers said. “But there’s something to capture about that physical intimacy and emotion. Seeing people close again, physical touch, contact, and to document that because that’s part of who we are. We need that contact.”

Though the year had so many ups and downs, Rogers said he is optimistic for Baylor Photography in the years to come.

“We truly are looking at reinventing everything again,” Rogers said. “It might be next spring, or it might even be another year from now, but when that time does come, we want to see it all from that new perspective again.”


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