My story:  A photographer in quarantine  


How has the job of campus photographer changed since the coronavirus pandemic forced remote operations? Marc Studer answers a few questions from Laura Mansfield.

Q. What would you normally be doing now and where would you be? 

A. I would normally be in my office on campus in LB2, answering emails and planning for shoots. Pre-pandemic, I was averaging three photo or video shoots per day. Once a shoot is finished, the job is only one-third done. There is a lot of post-shoot editing and archiving. As a campus photographer, I’m responsible for pictures taken today but also 20 years ago. 

Q. How is working from home going? 

A. I’m up at 7 a.m. to check emails. Before I left campus, I pulled all the hard drives from my office. I now have five hard drives connected to my home computer – over 18 terabytes of images. I am missing the UW bandwidth. When you try to work with large images or video in the cloud, it slows down your internet. And that means no Netflix for anyone. 

Q. What adjustments have you made to complete your work? 

In the Zoom fort.

A. I’m on Zoom calls for much of the day. I’ve made myself a Zoom fort (Fort Awesome). I made the fort when I realized I would be spending lots of time here. I started moving things … and moving one thing led to five. Everything I need is in arms reach, and my lighting is optimized for video. 

I am an essential employee, so I am making trips to campus. I have been filming some of the STEM faculty doing experiments so they can conduct their labs remotely. 

Q. What are you trying to work on (or just do) today? 

A. I’m producing a video to teach faculty how to make their own Zoom fort (a space set up for video teaching). It will include tips on how to improvise lighting and sound. 

Q. What are you doing to care for yourself or for others? 

A. I own a one-wheel scooter. I’m out on it every day. I hang a camera around my neck, and I’m ready to take a picture. The scooter allows me to explore so many nooks and crannies that I never knew existed. 

I always have little side projects going. Without a daily commute, I have more time. Early on, I made face masks. I have rebuilt my workspace. I went through my library and was shocked at the size of the paranormal section! I’m also binging some Netflix (“Westworld”). 

Also, I’m drinking coffee like a fish. 

Q. Do you have a change of perspective to share — about life or work? 

A. The status quo is a fragile thing. I’ve had a lot of anxiety about this. The other lesson we will all learn the hard way is, we will adapt. 

You need to take care of yourself. It’s important to take a break from the news. 

Q. What other thoughts or feelings do you want to share? 

A. We’re gonna make it. There will be changes to the workforce; it is all going to change. It’s going to be super rough for a lot of people. Every day you hold out is a day closer to getting better. 

Editor’s note: Marc’s instructional video on how to build a Zoom fort will soon be available on the instructional continuity website. There are videos and tips for all to optimize your online experience. 

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