Senior Editorial: Matthew Hazlett
Starting at The Towerlight drastically changed my direction in photography. Prior to college, I took photographs of nature, following in my Uncle’s footsteps. I knew that I wanted to take photos for the school newspaper but never knew the impact that it would have on my work.
My first assignment was one I will never forget. I was assigned to a 9/11 vigil taking place in the center of campus. Like most Towson events, only a handful of people showed up. One person in particular stood out and lent himself to good imagery. I focused the majority of my photographs on him only to find out that it was the reporter and then Assistant Arts & Life editor of the paper. My entire take was essentially useless. Luckily I had a few frames that did not include the later Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Bauer-Wolf, and was asked to continue shooting. From that moment on, The Towerlight was a part of me.
Many define their college experience from the friends that they made and the classes they took, mine is defined with the photographs I took. Not focusing on my studies, often skipping classes just to get the opportunity to take assignments, I quickly became a part of the paper and found my place to belong at Towson.
To most of the student body I was known as the guy on the scooter with all the cameras and I sure as hell embraced it. Taking upwards of 15 assignments an issue kept me busy and helped shape me into the photographer I am today.
To say I started at this paper knowing nothing is an understatement. I may have even known less than nothing, but what I didn’t know I made up for in perseverance (or maybe stubbornness). Every staffers’ goal was to be assigned a sporting event. Often only allowed for the editors, a select few staffers had the opportunity to shoot some of the less intense sports (tennis, softball, etc.).
My freshman year’s mornings were spent with hope that I would get a sports assignment. I would pack up all my camera gear and take it around campus with me just in case. In my last English class of the spring semester I received a text from the then photo editor asking if I was available to shoot tennis in 20 minutes. Having my camera with me I stood up and ran out of class all the way to courts. Arriving completely out of breath I tried to put together a few words and introduced myself to the coach. He was more than happy that I was there and gave me full access to shoot from wherever I wanted. I was on cloud nine. The year that I had been shooting for the paper had paid off and I was finally among the elite photographers shooting sports.
Being a part of The Towerlight family is something I will never lose and something that I am eternally grateful for. Huge shout out to everyone here that helped shape the photojournalist I am today: Christopher Curry, Dan Gross, Casey Prather, Lauren Slavin, Shamus Kelly and Mike Raymond are only a few of The Towerlighters that were able to give me this opportunity.
Things may have changed at the paper since I started but it has been very hard to let go. Having the opportunity to work with other publications besides The Towerlight during my senior year has drawn me away from the paper but I do try to work with the publication that gave me the most any new photographer could ask for: an opportunity.