Photographer Mark Collier captures life at Norwich, creating an image of the school

Lugging enough gear for any eventuality, Mark Collier captures moments large and small at Norwich as the University's professional photographer. Above, he aims a big lens on hockey practice. Photo by Stephanie White

Lugging gear for any eventuality, Mark Collier captures moments large and small at Norwich as the University’s busy, and personable, professional photographer. Above, he aims a big lens on hockey practice. Photo by Stephanie White.

At Norwich University, a photojournalist and friendly face can be spotted at almost every school and community service event in the thick of the action.

Mark Collier, staff photographer for the Office of Communications at Norwich and a native of Barre, Vt., has captured some of the most profound, as well as everyday, moments at Norwich and is no stranger to the faculty, staff and students. From taking photos of the Army Golden Knights, the Dalai Lama, and even going into burning buildings with firefighters, photography is “as natural as breathing,” says Collier, who says he has been involved with photography since the age of 10.

Kathleen Murphy Moriarty, associate vice president of marketing & communications, leads the office where Collier works and describes him as “Creative. Capable. And committed.” Collier’s role, she says, is that of a “visual storyteller and his work enhances the factual and emotional elements of Norwich. Through his clear, high quality, truthful images, we communicate meaningful and memorable messages that imprint our target audiences.”

Collier approaches photography with an artist’s eye. He’s typically seen taking photos of everything from the school including landscapes, buildings and people, as well as Norwich merchandise. “He may or may not have the luxury of time on his side to take the perfect shot, so opts to shoot as the event unfolds, capturing the action of the moment and the prevailing emotion that personifies what those involved must be feeling,” says Moriarty.

“I think this is year four at Norwich, this will be my first graduating class,” says Collier, who came to Norwich because he wanted a change.

He has shot photos for the Times Argus newspaper in Barre and for the Rutland Herald. He had also freelanced before that with a couple of advertising agencies. His work has been published largely “everywhere,” says Collier, including the New York Times, Washington Post, the Boston Globe, San Jose Mercury, Dallas Morning News, CBS, CNN, as well as CNN.com.
“The biggest part of what I do is visual storytelling, capturing the images that allow us to capture the story of Norwich University and what happened here. There’s a lot of cool stuff that happens here,” says Collier.

Students who interact with Collier all mention his skills and enthusiasm. The key aspects of photography can be tricky, notes Kyle Vu, OIC of public affairs for the Corps of Cadets and an avid photographer himself, citing “passion and that you understand how to use and manipulate light to your advantage.” Senior Erin Gats, the regimental commander at Norwich University, says, “he shoots from a lot of unique angles and uses varying levels of light to get great photos.”

“He’s very talented, you’ll see baseline things that are technically correct like underexposure or overexposure or angles, and he’ll do it intentionally and make it look good, even though it’s not what it’s supposed to be” says Becky Friend, public affairs sub section NCOIC.

“Lighting and composition are half the battle, but the lighting is really good here, it’s hard not to get good photos,” says Collier modestly.
He’s got a lot of photo technology to help him get the job done. “I’ve got a couple of drones, I can control with my phone up to three hundred feet,” he says. He shoots mainly with Nikons and has a lot of gear, noting, “The better the lens is, the better the photo you’re going to get.” Collier carries roughly three cameras at any time and the weight of all his gear would be the equivalent to wearing body armor.

Collier’s job at Norwich is not all that he does. He goes out of his way to offer a helping hand. “He spends a lot of time volunteering his services to groups in Vermont. Which is even more special once you see how crazy his work schedule can get, and how precious his off weekends must be,” says Lindsay Lord, the projects & production manager in the Office of Communications.

“If someone needs something, he’ll reach out and help them, if somebody is dehydrated he’ll ask, ‘Can I get you anything’,” says Friend, remarking on his selfless service to the University, and his behind-the-scenes attitude.

A look behind the scenes reveals how well Collier fits his job at Norwich. “One of my first days in the office, he was talking about spending his evenings photographing aurora borealis for fun until after midnight, then coming into work and photographing events all day long, then covering sporting events in the evening. I remember thinking, ‘wow, this guy really loves what he does’,” says Lord.

“He goes through great lengths to make sure this school gets coverage and I think someone like Mark should be recognized for that,” agrees Vu.
“If somebody needs something, he’ll reach out and help them, I don’t think he gets enough recognition,” says Friend.

Those who work with him every day echo the universal praise Norwich’s man-with-a-camera draws on campus. “He contributes mightily each and every day and we are a better university communications team because of him,” says Moriarty.

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