Gallery: Through our lens 2021-2022

(Sakshi Joglekar/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Victoria Li, Bryan Palmero, Sakshi Joglekar, Patrick L Shao, Esther Li, Ethan Manafi, Neha Krishnakumar, Jason Zhu, Alex Driscoll, Ashley Kenney, Vivian Xu, Anya Yakimenko, Chelsea Westman, Antonio Martinez, Jefferson Alade, Marc-Anthony Rosas, Lauren Man, Nina Morasky, Seth Van Matre, Finn Chitwood, Esther Ma, Javier Jauregui Ramirez, Kaiya Pomeroy-Tso, Joseph Jimenez, Megan Cai, Anika Chakrabarti, Jeremy Chen, August Suchecki, Kanishka Mehra, Shengfeng Chien, Mattias de los Rios Rogers, Christine Kao, David Rimer, Jack Stenzel, Shane Yu, Harold King Ho Lee

June 5, 2022 at 6:14 p.m.

(Victoria Li/Daily Bruin senior staff)
(Victoria Li/Daily Bruin senior staff)

It was the middle of spring break, a friend was visiting my hometown of San Diego and I was showing her around some of the nearby scenic spots, including La Jolla Cove pictured here. The mid-afternoon sun was beating down on us, but the beach, the people dotting the shore and the kayaks in the distance had caught my eye. I liked to imagine what everyone was doing there and why: Were they tourists or La Jolla natives? Were they excited to get some sun, or were they also a bit dehydrated as I was? This was for the disposable and film camera spring break gallery, which I loved being a part of – especially as my first photo gallery project. The simplicity of film point-and-shoots and its nostalgic look has always appealed to me. Most of all, I loved seeing everyone else’s photos and trying to piece together the story of what they were up to over break. It was also one of the last photos I ever took on my film camera because an hour later, I discovered that the plastic on the battery door had shattered after getting jostled around too hard in my bag. Rest in peace my beloved $25 Canon Autoboy S from eBay – you went out with a bang.

(Bryan Palmero/Daily Bruin senior staff)
(Bryan Palmero/Daily Bruin senior staff)

I rarely say no. So when not a single beat writer – or photographer – was available to cover UCLA women’s volleyball’s regular-season finale at USC, I thrusted myself into the role. With the game wrap and gallery in addition to a pair of football stories the following day on my to-do list – I decided to live-tweet the match as well. It was the thick of Thanksgiving weekend, and I figured I’d fill my plate with journalistic obligations. Of course, it was horrible. My eyes spent the evening frantically switching between looking at a viewfinder and my phone as athletes jostled for victory in the five-set contest. I strung together uninspired sentences and shot unfocused photos as the higher-ranked Bruins squandered a 2-1 lead to the Trojans. I watched then-redshirt sophomore middle blocker Anna Dodson, pictured here, unsuccessfully dive under the net to keep the ball – and later her team’s victory bid – alive. As I trudged down Westwood Boulevard after missing the bus past midnight, I knew I had stretched myself too thin. Unfortunately, as an assistant Sports editor, that weekend only proved to be the start of a perpetual, yearlong trek on the precipice of burnout. I’d be lying to myself, however, if I said I wouldn’t make that same decision again. The experience alone was irreplaceable.

(Sakshi Joglekar/Daily Bruin senior staff)
(Sakshi Joglekar/Daily Bruin senior staff)

I took this photo for a special issue of the paper for an Arts column entitled Dance Disassembled. Fellow photographer Megan Cai and I were tasked with photographing alumnus Jared Menschel, also known as Valley Gyrl. What I anticipated being a quick 15-minute shoot turned into an hourlong conversation that allowed Megan and me to explore different angles and try more creative approaches to our images. I got this shot using a prism, and I loved the resulting rainbow that appeared.

(Patrick Shao/Daily Bruin)
(Patrick Shao/Daily Bruin)

I don’t see myself shooting sports in the future, but experiences like these help guide me toward what I want to focus on photographing in the future. Like eliminating the wrong answers on a multiple choice test, I only come closer and closer to finding the answer through every photograph I take. Although compared to others, I don’t find myself as avid a fan of men’s volleyball, I find myself excited to see so many gather to enjoy a game that can create both constant relaxation and stress. Capturing both the audience and the players, the excitement, disappointment, desperation, joy and all the other raw emotions a sports game brings out of them is what makes me come back time and time again.

(Esther Li/Daily Bruin staff)
(Esther Li/Daily Bruin staff)

When I shot men’s basketball, I was worried about the fast-paced nature of the sport. Our sports beat Photo editor kindly let me borrow his camera and gave me a quick pep talk before I headed into Pauley Pavilion, where suddenly I found myself shooting right next to a veteran Los Angeles Times photographer. In this photo, UCLA then-junior guard Johnny Juzang drives the ball past Washington State’s forward Andrej Jakimovski. The game had plenty of action that made capturing moments like this surprisingly easy. It went by even faster than I expected, and I really enjoyed the adrenaline of speed-walking to the press room and rushing to select photos.

(Ethan Manafi/Daily Bruin)
(Ethan Manafi/Daily Bruin)

Celebrating Nowruz and visiting family members after the new year is one of the best memories I have from my childhood in Iran. The moment I walked into Dickson Plaza to document the Nowruz celebration at UCLA, I was amazed by the size of the crowd gathered to watch Nargol Rashidian perform a puppet show. Their show consisted of jokes and lessons for the kids disguised in ancient Persian folk stories. There were many other music and dance performances throughout the day; however, Rashidian’s puppet show was among the only performances designed specifically for Iranian American children to allow them to connect with their Persian cultural heritage.

(Neha Krishnakumar/Daily Bruin)
(Neha Krishnakumar/Daily Bruin)

My inspiration behind this photo was rooted in my struggles as an Indian American with dark skin. When I first got to know my friend Harshitha Pandian, pictured here, I found that we shared a lot of similar experiences growing up and facing bullying because of our skin color. I wanted to show a rebellion against colorist ideals while still drawing on aspects of Indian culture. I asked Pandian to dress in traditional Indian clothing and jewelry but chose to incorporate a vivid pink and orange sari and bold makeup to go against how people with dark skin are often told that bright colors are unflattering on them. As much as I enjoyed the process of planning and taking the photo, I especially loved seeing her joyful reaction when she exclaimed that she felt like royalty in the pictures.

(Jason Zhu/Daily Bruin staff)
(Jason Zhu/Daily Bruin staff)

This was my first time shooting photos for gymnastics, and this was the Meet the Bruins exhibition that anchored the start of the UCLA gymnastics season. Like everytime I shot something new, I was rather tense that day. Was I shooting too wide? Too slow? Overexposed? The pulsating music in Pauley Pavillion put me in a daze as I frantically tried my hardest to even barely put the jumping, tumbling, flying gymnasts in frame. Before I had realized, the vault and bars routines had finished, and I only had countless shots of poorly framed and blurry photos to show for my struggle. I felt overwhelmed and embarrassed as I dragged my feet, with a heavy heart, into position to prepare for the upcoming beam routines. Things changed when it came to senior Margzetta Frazier’s turn on the beam, pictured here. From her gait, she exuded so much confidence as she stepped toward the beam and mounted the beam effortlessly in one fell swoop. When she got set in her starting position, all attention converged on her. Her brief pause prior to the start of her routine seemed to have also put everything in the arena to a momentary stop. Her breathtaking level of composure demanded all of my focus, and it felt as if my anxiety had all been extinguished. Involuntarily, overcome by Frazier’s spirited showmanship, I locked in and hit the shutter button.

(Alex Driscoll/Daily Bruin staff)

Seeing Korean pop artist BIBI perform convinced me that I need to start listening to her discography immediately. And not just during my drive home from the Head in The Clouds Music and Arts festival at the Rose Bowl but all the time. I loved capturing the way her infectious energy radiated from her fingertips into the screaming crowd of fans. While I might not have been the biggest K-Pop listener prior to the two-day festival celebrating a variety of Asian artists, BIBI’s charisma found its way into my music taste faster than you can say, “Barbie wanna party like all night.”

(Harold Lee/Daily Bruin)
(Harold Lee/Daily Bruin)

It was my first time shooting a women’s basketball game. Like every rookie photographer, I was nervous and got frustrated about missing the shots. The clock was ticking, yet we were still losing to Arizona State after halftime. Our four-game winning streak would be ending if we did not make a comeback. Then, I recalled someone telling me, “Photography is all about emotions.” It woke me up as I finally immersed myself in the game. I let the players express their emotions in front of the camera. Unfortunately, we did not turn the game around. Yet the efforts that every player put in during the process were the most important takeaway of the game – as captured.

(Shane Yu/Daily Bruin)
(Shane Yu/Daily Bruin)

Practicing medicine in space was no longer an extraordinary concept to me after my photoshoot with Dr. Haig Aintablian, pictured here, at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Seeing his face of resolve, I could sense his passion for bringing medical care beyond our atmosphere. This photo was taken in front of the main entrance to the emergency room, which represents his specialty in emergency medicine. Before the shoot, I was nervous not only because it was my first time shooting with an individual subject but also because it was with a professional whose career in medicine is one that I am currently striving to pursue. However, Aintablian was such an amazing person, and he even took me up to the helipad. It was exciting because on the helipad, I could see the entire UCLA campus and Westwood.

(Ashley Kenney/Daily Bruin senior staff)
(Ashley Kenney/Daily Bruin senior staff)

When senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson (pictured) hurdled over a USC player, I initially passed off the touchdown as just another moment in the already exciting game. Soon after, however, I came to learn I was one of the few photographers to capture the quarterback’s successful jump into the end zone. As one of the few female photographers on the football field, I was especially proud to find out that other news publications were interested in republishing the photo. My hurdle photo was an excellent, albeit unexpected, end to my time photographing UCLA football given the Holiday Bowl cancellation. I will forever hold this photo as one of my personal bests in photography and in the Daily Bruin.

(Vivian Xu/Daily Bruin senior staff)
(Vivian Xu/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Not even a full week into fall quarter, music | fine arts Editor Isabella Durgin and I were onto covering our second concert of the academic year: Lord Huron at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Despite not having been photo trained, I begged Photo Editor Ashley Kenney to let me shoot the concert, sending her a hodgepodge portfolio to prove my chops. After an abridged training and a practice shoot of UCLA women’s volleyball, I was off to the cemetery. I spent the concert with my fingers crossed, hoping that there would be a few winners in my collection of shots from in front of the barricade and that my squeezing through the dense crowd yielded at least some fruitful photos. When I finally saw the gallery, I was over the moon to see that I had captured lead singer Ben Schneider donning his skeleton mask while jamming on his electric guitar. A few months later, Lord Huron’s management reached out to me to express that Schneider adored this particular photo and drew a rendition of it that he wanted to use on promotional tour posters. I gave the band my blessing to use the image and have accepted that this is my peak as a photographer.

(Anya Yakimenko/Daily Bruin)
(Anya Yakimenko/Daily Bruin)

Fifteen minutes before this photo was taken, I was arguing with a security guard about whether or not I should be allowed in the photo pit. Unfortunately, my negotiations were unsuccessful, and I had to improvise and shoot from the crowd. I was nervous about being too far away, or that an overexcited Stagecoach Festival attendee would somehow break my camera, but this inconvenience ended up being one of the highlights of the festival. Everyone in the crowd was incredibly accommodating and made space for me to shoot in the front. As a result, I captured one of my favorite shots from the festival of Orville Peck leaning back while playing his guitar.

(Chelsea Westman/Daily Bruin staff)
(Chelsea Westman/Daily Bruin staff)

It was both an honor and a bit tedious to be asked to cover Bruin Bash. I did not know how well I was going to do considering it was my first time ever photographing a concert. Music | fine arts Editor Isabella Durgin guided me throughout the event and made me feel comfortable at the Los Angeles Tennis Center. I remember feeling full-fledged excitement when I cut through the five-hour line from Drake Stadium, where hundreds of students waited for their wristbands. As the night approached, I was allowed to pass security and enter areas restricted to regular students. I took pictures of students stretching their arms past the barricade, as I got special access behind it. I was able to get less than five feet away from Rico Nasty as she walked to the center stage. From there, the raging subwoofer blew my hair all over as I took this photograph, which made the front page of the first print newspaper that quarter. It felt exhilarating to see Rico’s passion on stage, radiating right before my lens. At that moment, I know concert photography would be one of my favorite types of assignments.

(Antonio Martinez/Daily Bruin staff)
(Antonio Martinez/Daily Bruin staff)

It came as a surprise to me to learn that our Southern California-based university has a club ice hockey team. As an honorary Canadian myself – I’m LA born but spent my elementary years living outside Toronto – I was especially excited to have the opportunity to photograph a sport I had learned to love during my youth. From a spectator’s perspective, ice hockey is an absolute thrill to watch, as the players skate around the ice at high speeds, skillfully maneuvering the puck and, of course, checking into each other. I think this picture of a face off perfectly captures the kind of intensity and excitement I enjoy about the sport – the anticipation of the contact that is to come as the players fight for possession the moment the puck hits the ice. I would highly encourage all UCLA sports fans in the future to catch some games and cheer on our Bruins during the upcoming season.

(Jefferson Alade/Daily Bruin)
(Jefferson Alade/Daily Bruin)

During spring quarter, I was fortunate enough to be asked to help cover LA Fashion Week by my arts Photo Editor Sakshi Joglekar. There were four of us who were responsible for covering the runway: two writers and two photographers. Since we all had media passes, we were allowed to go backstage, and I was instantly overstimulated by the amount of movement and urgency there was. People were flooding in and out of different sections, doing their best to get ready on time. One section that caught my attention was the one where models who were fully fitted lined up. The line reminded me of kindergarten and how teachers made students line up by the door to make sure everyone was present. The model I took a picture of was walking for Andrew James, and I instantly fixated on their boho-chic garments and otherworldly makeup. This was one of the first pictures I took that weekend and also one of my favorites.

(Marc-Anthony Rosas/Daily Bruin)
(Marc-Anthony Rosas/Daily Bruin)

Shooting a matchup between the Bruins and Trojans is always fun, but there is something extra special when the Pac-12 championship is on the line. The atmosphere at Wallis Annenberg Stadium for the women’s soccer game was electric from the opening kickoff, and the dense fog that rolled onto the pitch put all the focus on just the game. I was a little nervous because this was my first time ever shooting with a 300mm lens, and the monopod I was using buckled under the weight of the lens before the game started. Nonetheless, I still got some of my favorite shots that I have ever taken at this game, including this one of ​​UCLA then-freshman forward Lexi Wright and USC defender Brooklyn Courtnall attempting to head the ball. I think this photograph perfectly captures the story of the intense battle between the two teams, putting everything on the line to gain possession of the ball and win. Add that with the symmetry of the players and the contrast between the red and blue on the gray foggy background, and it makes the focal point pop. What makes it just a little bit more special though is the fact that UCLA won and was crowned Pac-12 champion.

(Lauren Man/Daily Bruin senior staff)
(Lauren Man/Daily Bruin senior staff)

I’ve always loved shooting for Arts features and meeting student artists, but shooting Eliana Bohn, a student fire spinner was a next level of cool. Before we could commence with the shoot, we had a couple of logistics to sort out. Since I was shooting in the dark, with fire and LA’s light pollution as my only sources of light, I had to acquire a tripod from another photographer. We also struggled to find a place in Westwood where we could legally spin fire and briefly contemplated scaling down to spinning lights. In the end, we decided that we couldn’t compromise the fire element of the photos and headed out to L.A. Burn Club, where fire spinners practiced their craft. After setting up the tripod, I snapped away as Bohndanced, capturing both still shots such as the one pictured above and also some light trails shots.

(Nina Morasky/Daily Bruin)
(Nina Morasky/Daily Bruin)

This spring, the Pediatric AIDS Coalition at UCLA held its annual Dance Marathon in person for the first time since 2019. Student participants stayed on their feet for 13 hours, raising over $112,000 for their beneficiaries. I participated in the Dance Marathon in addition to taking photos, and I found it to be an incredibly moving experience. Between games, music, dancing and guest speakers, the participants connected over their shared passion for the goals of PAC. This particular photo was taken about halfway through the 13-hour event, as the band Free Arlo kept the energy up for the crowd.

(Seth Van Matre/Daily Bruin)
(Seth Van Matre/Daily Bruin)

When the recent Supreme Court document leak revealed the possible intentions of the court to overturn Roe v. Wade, people took to the streets to protest. What was mostly a peaceful protest in downtown LA intensified toward the end of the event. Police in riot gear began to block off the road and prepare for arrests. This photo is of a verbal altercation between a protester and officer in riot gear. I think this accurately captured the tension of the night.

(Esther Ma/Daily Bruin staff)
(Esther Ma/Daily Bruin staff)

This photo is part of my photo gallery on the Chinese Students and Scholars Association’s Chinese Culture Night, which had been postponed for two years because of the pandemic. On the night of the show in Royce Hall, it was a full house, and the energy was awesome. The audience cheered, laughed and showed their support with cell phone flashlights for the performances that connected them to their culture and their homes. What I love most about being a photographer for the paper is being able to experience moments like these firsthand.

(Finn Chitwood/Daily Bruin)
(Finn Chitwood/Daily Bruin)

This photo was taken at a protest against the Supreme Court’s leaked opinion favoring the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Some people had signs that read along the lines of “Vote them out!” and many had signs that read “No more voting, burn it down.” Intersectionality was a huge factor as well. The man with the rainbow flag is just a glimpse of the cross-section of people who showed up to support abortion access.

(Javier Jauregui/Daily Bruin)
(Javier Jauregui/Daily Bruin)

It was Valentine’s Day, and I was walking around campus all morning looking for people to interview for a photo gallery I had pitched regarding love in the time of COVID-19. I had come across Grupo Folklórico de UCLA’s Valentine’s performance at the McClure Stage on Bruin Walk, where I stumbled upon fourth-year Chicano and Chicana studies, Spanish, community and culture and Central American Studies student Monserrat Alvarado among the crowd. I asked her if she wanted to share what she thought about love for a photo gallery I was working on. She agreed to go along with the interview but asked if we could do it at another time, as she had to be somewhere at the time. We decided to arrange an interview at her apartment complex later in the afternoon. I took this photo outside the complex. It was a wholesome interview that ended up being 15 minutes long, the longest interview I’ve done for a photo gallery. It was one of my favorite interviews because of how we discussed love through the perspective of someone experiencing a heartbreak.

(Kaiya Pomeroy-Tso/Daily Bruin senior staff)
(Kaiya Pomeroy-Tso/Daily Bruin senior staff)

In this match, UCLA women’s tennis was one game away from being swept by USC to end the regular season. But senior Elysia Bolton, pictured here, down 5-1 in the second set, won her next six games and the following set to complete her comeback. Although the Bruins ultimately lost the final point, Bolton’s win was an exhilarating example of the payoff for never giving up. The four-hour match showcased the epic highs and lows of college tennis in a way I couldn’t have imagined before.

(Joseph Jimenez/Assistant Photo editor)
(Joseph Jimenez/Assistant Photo editor)

This photo was taken on my first time traveling outside of California for the Daily Bruin. It was from my final day in Gulf Shores, Alabama, and the day No. 3 seed UCLA beach volleyball was upset by No. 5 seed Florida State in the NCAA national championship tournament. I remember almost getting heatstroke because the game went on for much longer than anyone anticipated, just ask the sunburn I got. But this photo stands out to me because I spent the entire time I was there attempting and failing to get this shot. Every time freshman Sophie Moore, pictured here, stepped onto the court, she did this dive so effortlessly, while I stumbled around with my two cameras in hand failing to capture her. So when I finally looked down after seeing her rally to save the ball, I saw this moment that eluded me sitting on the LED screen perfectly in frame and in focus. From there, it stuck with me and reminded me of all the work I put into the paper that led to me being in Alabama. It became a moment of reflection for me that truly reminded me of how blessed I was to just be there in the moment. I think if there is anything I could say that encompasses my time in Alabama and the emotions this photo holds for me, it is that everything falls into place when it needs to and that living in the moment is worth all the time in the world.

(Megan Cai/Assistant Photo editor)
(Megan Cai/Assistant Photo editor)

I love everything about food – eating it, making it, shooting it, sharing it – so when I saw the opportunity to cover a Westwood restaurant, I immediately knew which one I wanted to cover. Fat Sal’s was the perfect candidate. I sent them an email about the gallery idea, expecting nothing to come from it. A few days later, however, I was wonderfully surprised to receive a call from the operations manager. I was so happy to hear that he matched my enthusiasm about the gallery, and we set a time to meet and worked out more logistics over email. The manager ended our email chain with “The ‘Real Fat Sal’ will also be in town next week so let me know if you have any interest in meeting him,” and I was in shock. It felt like I had the opportunity to meet a celebrity. At the same time, I was feeling a flurry of other emotions – excitement, uncertainty and a little bit of anxiety. I had never done a solo gallery or conducted an interview, much less an interview with someone so well known in the UCLA community. But I was lucky to have been supported by the Photo editors as well as a very friendly Fat Sal’s team and because of their combined help, I was able to pull off this gallery. My favorite part of this experience was being able to photograph the coordinated chaos of the kitchen during the late night rush. With a flurry of orders constantly coming in, the team worked seamlessly and efficiently, and it was fascinating to see. Overall, this gallery felt like a turning point. It was the first time I realized how much I love being a part of this newspaper and all the cool things I can do with my time in it.

(Anika Chakrabarti/Photo editor)

If I learned anything from this night, it was to not wear white shoes to a Roebling block party. I agreed to photograph the fall quarter Roebling block party at the last minute, and I didn’t exactly know what to expect. I remember the night started with someone playing music outside, and then a large crowd quickly formed on Roebling Avenue. Students started lighting furniture on fire, and I had to push my way to the front of the crowd to get a clear shot of the action. Although I feared for my camera’s safety, it was worth getting so close to the fire because I caught this moment of someone jumping over the pile of burning tables and chairs. I think this photo perfectly captures the energy and excitement that students felt entering the beginning of this school year.

(Jeremy Chen/Assistant Photo editor)
(Jeremy Chen/Assistant Photo editor)

The five-story hike from the media room to the Stanford football field was brutal and demoralizing, and the trek had to be completed before the game, at halftime, and after the game. The bulky camera equipment we were carrying didn’t make our lives any easier, but luckily, seasoned football photographer veteran Tanmay Shankar brought electrolyte solution to keep us hydrated as we went up and down the stairs. Once we got to the field though, I experienced the most energy and excitement I’ve ever come across during my time at the Daily Bruin. This was the first football game I’d ever shot, and in this instance, I was very, very lucky that I was still standing near the UCLA end zone. I should’ve been on the other side of the field to cover the action, but it turned out I was in the perfect position to catch redshirt junior wide receiver Kyle Philips running 75 yards for a touchdown to retake the lead for the Bruins. It was also fortunate that there were 11 wildfires blazing across California that day – solely from a photography standpoint, of course – since the smoky, uniformly gray skies generated perfect lighting conditions for the whole game. I’m still incredibly grateful that I was allowed to shoot football this year, but I suppose I should be more grateful that I live close to Stanford, as there were no Daily Bruin funds needed to house me.

(August Suchecki/Daily Bruin)
(August Suchecki/Daily Bruin)

As a music major, I had been following Spring Sing since audition season in January. When the omicron variant pushed everything online early in 2022, the entire music community at UCLA feared the show might have to be virtual for the third year in a row. When watching Outspoken finish off the night with their powerful performance at Spring Sing in May, you could feel the group’s energy radiating off the stage. This is a picture of triumphant success – both that of Outspoken, one of the winners of best overall performance, and that of the entire crew who put Spring Sing 2022 together.

(Kanishka Mehra/Daily Bruin senior staff)
(Kanishka Mehra/Daily Bruin senior staff)

One of the first skills I learned as a photographer was the importance of getting the shot in focus. Since this was the last UCLA football game I photographed for The Bruin, however, I felt inspired to take some creative leeway and capture the energy radiating from the packed stands at Husky Stadium before kickoff. I would highly encourage future sports photographers to try to find the right balance between creativity and practicality because you don’t want to lose yourself trying to understand the assignment and nail every shot.

(Shengfeng Chien/Daily Bruin)
(Shengfeng Chien/Daily Bruin)

I find it incredible the extent to which people are willing to go to make their voices heard on a topic they truly believe in, and I feel honored to be in a position to spread their voices even further. This photo is of the University of California union workers rallying for fair wages, a topic you wouldn’t think would end up on the streets. The details in this photo that explain what was happening, as well as the way the story sheds light on the current socioeconomic status of America, makes it one of my favorite shots of the year.

(Mattias de los Rios Rogers/Daily Bruin)
(Mattias de los Rios Rogers/Daily Bruin)

One of my favorite things to photograph is sports. I love the way the action is frozen in the image, and this is especially true in swimming. When I was photographing this UCLA swim and dive meet, I noticed that most of my images looked very similar. They all had the same side of the pool angle. In this photo, I decided to get a new perspective by getting at the end of the lane and capturing the moment during freshman Ana Jih-Schiff’s open turn.

(Christine Kao/Daily Bruin staff)
(Christine Kao/Daily Bruin staff)

Prior to taking this photograph, I had only done two portraits for the Daily Bruin. As much as the unfamiliar territory heightens my anxiety, I appreciated the opportunity to create visuals for PRIME writer Devon Whalen’s story on his experience at UCLA as a transgender student. Knowing how personal the article was set out to be, I wanted to personalize our shooting environment in addition to amplifying Whalen’s character. After consulting my friend Charles Tran, who has a background in set design, I arrived at JOANN fabric and craft store to cut fabrics as the backdrop and went home to stroke it in pink and light blue, the color palette of the transgender pride flag. As the shooting day approached, the several props I had prepared to experiment with haven’t stopped my nervousness. Then, there comes David Rimer, my assistant Photo editor. The night before the shoot, he brought me a camera and a light stand as promised. We set the equipment up in my living room, and I started rehearsing and directing a subject and capturing their candid moments as Rimer made up scenarios. When he left, I felt ready for tomorrow’s session with Whalen. The next day, Whalen skateboarded to my apartment dressed in pink and blue. In front of the backdrop, I tried leading him the way I practiced with Rimer. While I saw making him relaxed as my mission, Whalen’s bubbly energy and contagious smile calmed me down instead. When he left, I felt ready to take on more portraits sharing intimate tales coming from my subjects.

(David Rimer/Daily Bruin senior staff)
(David Rimer/Daily Bruin senior staff)

I drove to Las Vegas on a Tuesday expecting a replay of 2021’s NCAA Final Four matchup, a neck-and-neck race between UCLA men’s basketball and Gonzaga. I arrived at the No. 1 versus No. 2 matchup with Sports Editor Jon Christon, fueled by a satisfying Del Taco run in Baker, California. My high hopes quickly evaporated. Gonzaga earned a 21-point lead within 11 minutes of play. This photo embodies what it felt like to witness the rout: Coach Mick Cronin yells from the background as freshman guard/forward Peyton Watson attempts a shot against outstretched arms – and a leg – from Gonzaga guard Julian Strawther (left) and center Chet Holmgren (center) while teammates look on. Though it was not the close matchup I imagined, I left the T-Mobile Arena with countless memories and some of my favorite sports photos to date.

(Jack Stenzel/Daily Bruin)
(Jack Stenzel/Daily Bruin)

I really didn’t want to shoot this game. I had already shot game one of the three-game series for UCLA softball’s super regional contest series against Duke the night before. On Saturday, my editor messaged me that they needed someone again for the game that night, and I already had plans to go surfing. I canceled in hopes that this game would produce some excitement, and luckily, it did. I’m not used to softball or breaking games, where the photographer has to quickly send photos following the game to be posted on social media and in the accompanying article. The game was high intensity and so was the workflow, as I was constantly checking my messages from the editors about what pictures they wanted or which big play was important. At some point there was so much action and celebration I just went into survival mode and held down the shutter button and hoped the autofocus didn’t catch onto the sky. UCLA ended up winning emphatically, securing a berth to the Women’s College World Series. The ensuing celebrations meant I was all of a sudden right in front of a massive celebratory moment. I was part of the celebration but also felt I had a serious responsibility to capture everything. A couple of the UCLA players dumped a jug of Gatorade on star player redshirt senior infielder Delanie Wisz 10 feet in front of me. Everything happened so fast that when I looked through the photos right after the moment, it looked like I got the Gatorade and Wisz out of focus, therefore rendering the pictures useless. I shuddered when the editor asked for a picture of the celebration, thinking I choked the shot. I looked back quickly on my SD card and sent the sequence I did have just in case. It turned out that, although I indeed caught the Gatorade and the player out of the focus in the foreground, I did get the emotive reactions of all her teammates behind her. The editors I looked up to were hyped, and it made me feel cool.

 

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