To wrap up the calendar year, University Photographer Dana Rene Bowler selected her favorite photos from 2018. Bowler reflected on her work at Catholic University in a Q-and-A with the Office of Marketing and Communications.
In your opinion, what makes a strong, compelling photo?
I think a photo that contains a moment, that is composed well, and in which the lighting is good is a strong photo. This is hard to achieve with all photos, but that's what I try to do on most days.
Did you have a favorite photo shoot this year? Or is there a type of photo shoot that's your favorite?
My favorite shoots are the service days (such as the Mother Teresa Day of Service and the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service). I love, love, love documenting the students volunteering. I also like covering Luaupalooza and Halloween on Campus. I think the shoots I like the most are the ones where things are happening without staging or asking someone to "do something” for me in order to get the shot I want.
What do you hope to convey about Catholic University through your photos?
I hope to convey emotion when someone looks at my photography. It doesn't have to be an "in your face" emotion per se, but more I hope someone learns something or they were intrigued to look closer at the image. I would like people to learn a small amount about Catholic University each time they see a photo of mine. Communicating clearly is the key to good photography.
What is your favorite place to take a photo on campus?
I love to be on top of buildings to get a birds-eye view. I have spent a lot of time on the roof of McMahon Hall and in the bell tower at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
What has been the most difficult event/picture to capture?
The year Catholic University lead the March for Life in the snow. [Editor’s note: This was in 2016 when a snowstorm began during the March for Life. The storm would dump more than a foot of snow on the D.C. area.] It was hectic and I couldn't find the group at first so it had its challenges. But it was so beautiful.
How is being a photographer at a university different from other jobs you've had?
My experience is mainly working as a photojournalist and part of the ethics behind that profession is to not set up photos or stage them. Here at Catholic University, my job requires a lot of staged photos for different purposes. This has been an adjustment for me. I prefer to capture things as they are happening, but the flip side is that I have become good at taking photos meant for a marketing purpose.
Photos from January through March capture some significant annual events at Catholic University, such as the March for Life, St. Thomas Aquinas Mass, and the beginning of Lent. The University hosted a variety of music and drama events and students had the chance to get involved in activities such as a celebration of the Chinese New Year and the “Build a Bae” event around Valentine’s Day. As spring began to bloom in March, students soaked up the sun and warmer temperatures on the largest, greenest campus in D.C.
As the spring semester wound down in April, students celebrated at Luaupalooza, an annual event to mark the end of the academic year. In May, Commencement was held on the steps of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Although the campus was quieter in June, students who stuck around for the summer explored the sights of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., just a short Metro ride away.
Over the summer, the University hosted a variety of institutes for high school students. One of them, the High School Drama Institute, was hosted by the newly formed Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art. In August the University welcomed the Class of 2022 during move in and Orientation. September was a busy month as students immersed themselves in student organizations and activities. Renovations on Maloney Hall, the future home of the Busch School of Business, continued throughout the fall.
The year wrapped up with a series of popular annual events on campus. In October, alumni and students celebrated Cardinal Weekend with a variety of activities, including a homecoming football game. Students also handed out candy to children from the Catholic University and Brookland communities at Halloween on Campus. In November, the weather quickly shifted from fall to winter when a trace of snow fell on campus. As students prepared for final exams, the University hosted the two popular seasonal events: the Light the Season tree lighting ceremony and the Annual Christmas Concert for Charity.