The Ram is Practice for the Perfect Picture


During my sophomore year, at the peak of COVID-19 anxieties, I found myself slipping into some of my worst habits. In between going to class and socializing with friends, I would drown myself in TV shows and TikTok videos, spending less and less time on productive and healthy activities. I saw all these students, some my age and some even younger, turning their lockdown hours towards passion projects. Envious of their time management skills during what seemed to me like dead hours, weeks and even months, I decided to lean into anything I could get my hands on.

It all started with a picture of Keating I took on my phone at dusk, which would soon become my favorite time to adventure. Unsatisfied by the lack of control I had with my phone, I decided to call my parents and have them send me an old, basic Nikon digital camera we had bought for a vacation years ago. Once the camera arrived, I realized I had no idea what I was doing. So, I did what I do best and scoured the internet, teaching myself the basics of photography — a humble beginning, but something I believe many in this generation can relate to. 

I decided to try out my newfound knowledge at the Botanical Gardens. With the gardens’ proximity to campus, it was not too big of a commitment. Besides, what could be a more accessible place to take photos than a place literally designed to look beautiful? Although only about 10 or 15 of the several dozen pictures I had taken were remotely acceptable, I was hooked. Drawn to the idea of creating “great works,” I searched for my magnum opus, a picture I could send to my loved ones when they asked the previously embarrassing question, “What have you been up to recently?” 

I took solo trips into the city during my off days in search of this moment, a scenery in pure form, righteous enough to be called my “best picture yet.” I found it eventually and almost immediately afterward, I sunk into a great disillusionment. I doubted everything I was doing. I started making rookie mistakes about aperture, shutter speed and even ISO. For those who understand this lingo, you know how annoying it can be to miss a perfect moment because you miss-spun a single dial. 

I had basically forgotten everything I had learned up to that point and, out of frustration, I didn’t pick up my camera for months. Like many others addicted to the instant gratification of social media and the internet, my attention span could not hold steady through creative droughts and frustration. I still showed people the photos I had taken. I was very proud of them, but neither my hands nor my eyes could keep up with the lofty vision I had set out for.

I eventually picked my camera back up; whether out of guilt, a feeling of responsibility or a genuine desire to try again I might never know. I had results similar to those I had before. I took pictures I thought weren’t too shabby, whether my first images were the result of beginner’s luck or the fact that I was probably just overcomplicating the entire thing (something I admit I am prone to do). At least I had started again, this time with the wisdom that not everything I take has to (or will) be remotely perfect.

It was around this time that I heard that The Fordham Ram needed a Photo Editor, and they would accept quite literally anyone with any form of photographic knowledge. Somewhere between doubt and blind confidence, I decided that I fit the bill. I did not want to leave this kind of opportunity hanging, especially since I was already looking for a club to join.

The story pretty much tells itself, except for the challenges. My wanna-be pseudo-artsy style does not fit in journalism. At the beginning, I thought the medium was somewhat limiting of my vision, but I quickly learned that new styles and rules aren’t just limiting. They are an opportunity to grow. Telling a real story through an image is different from my ideology of capturing beautiful moments, but it is not its antithesis. Admittedly, I am not a journalist, but I am also not an artist. I’m just a dude trying to learn new things. That is why I am incredibly grateful to the Ram and the people who got me here, so I could have a chance to teach myself new styles while also being held somewhat accountable for my creative craziness. Who knows where my love for photography would be if I didn’t take this opportunity at the Ram? Would I still be able to hold my camera without it feeling like a weighty responsibility? All I know for sure is that I am still doing it and still practicing. Maybe one day I will finally catch that elusive dragon and produce my new greatest photo yet.