Pace of Photography


As director of photography for UI Athletics, Brian Ray is the main man behind the camera. Photo by Ben Smith/Iowa Journalist

In the 1990s, young photographers sought career paths around the country in an industry still considered lucrative and glamorous to the untrained eye. Brian Ray “B-Ray” (BA ’02) was one of them.

Now the director of photography for University of Iowa Athletics, Ray has his hands full. With more than 20 university-sponsored athletic programs and 171 home events, there’s no doubt that many consider him fortunate to be working for the Hawkeyes, but his peers recognize the hard work it entails.

“Despite having a wife and two small children, Brian can be found at nearly every University of Iowa home athletic event,” said Darren Miller, UI’s director of athletic content. “He is reliable and his photography adds to the messages we sends to fans, recruits, student-athletes, and their parents.”

Yet, through every caffeine-driven, sleepless night of cutting, editing, and captioning photos, Ray stuck to one principle. He puts into practice what any hard-hitting, relentless photojournalist must: purpose.

“I try to make everything I do have a purpose,” Brian Ray said. “There has to be a reason I’m taking that photo.” 

Adapting to the Trends

As time went on and the industry evolved into modern news media, photographers like Ray adapted their workflows to suit the needs of the masses.

Due to the transition to digital photography, the industrious, sleepless nights of physical manipulation to 35mm film are now long gone. Today, many welcome the speed and reliability of digital cameras, though it does come with its challenges.

Kirk Murray (BA ’94/MA ’01) discussed the many differences that both seasoned and new photographers experience in the film and digital processes. In particular, Murray mentioned the transition between the two mediums and how photographers have different philosophies.

Kirk Murray, an Emmy award-winning photographer, creates UI PR videos. Photo by Ben Smith/Iowa Journalist

“Initially, there was this transition between film and digital where no one really wanted anything to do with the other method,” Murray said. “Now, I think there’s a little give and take with the two.” For the seasoned few, the transition comes with a great many pros and equally as many cons.

“With digital the possibilities are absolutely enormous,” Murray said. “You can try these amazingly creative things without wasting your materials. But there is this sense of deliberateness to your work with film.” From film to digital, staffer to freelancer, and mechanical to electronic, the old and outdated photojournalistic model ceases to exist, creating exciting new paths for those ready to put in the work.

“Just remember, everything now has to be done 10 minutes ago,” Ray said.