Photog: ‘Texan gave me a home’

Shweta Gulati

Editor’s note: A 30 column is a chance for departing permanent staff to say farewell and reflect on their time spent in The Daily Texan’s basement office. The term comes from the old typesetting mark (-30-) to denote the end of a line.

In spring 2013, while taking my usual 40 Acres, I saw an ad for tryouts in The Daily Texan. I then found myself leaving the bus to find the obscure Texan office for an application for a staff photographer. The next day, at 9 a.m., I sat intimidated with other tryouts waiting for assignments. Wild art seemed like a vague concept to me and no wonder, because it still is. After a failed first tryout attempt, Pu gave me a strong critique and was a great mentor to begin my photojournalism career. Nevertheless, she did scare me, but, then again, I am not the only one in the Texan to feel that way.

Every assignment for the Texan is a memory in itself. Be it laughing behind the lens shooting the MoonTower Comedy Fest, sneaking to shoot behind the stage at the music festivals, toiling around with the heavy 300 mm lens to shoot sports, couchsurfing at a stranger’s place in Oklahoma after shooting the basketball game or going to Houston to shoot the primaries, only to later see the photo published in New York Times! Yes, this list is endless. I have met amazing people and heard so many stories shooting all of these.

Texan gave me a home even though mine was miles away. I remember taking some of The Daily Texan papers that had my photos published to India last summer to show it to my family. They were proud but still wondered when I would start talking in the same enthusiastic manner about my computer science courses.

It goes without saying that I will miss my fellow peers and friends who had made fun of my accent, taught me so much about the “American culture”, gave me life lessons, made me hear those awful rap songs or with whom I have made unusual travelling plans. I know life ahead will never be the same, but I am sure these basement memories will help me sail through my difficult times. The collaboration between writers, photographers, design, copy, comics etc. to deliver a final product still amazes me, and I feel so proud to have been a part of this hardworking organization in my college life. It is hard to bid goodbye to a place where you have so many memories — where you have learned and grown so much. I don’t know what the future has in store for me, but I know for sure Texan made me discover what I love to do.

The basement evolved me from an intimidated tryout to a confident individual. I hope it continues to do so for students yet to work here.