GATOR CHAMPS: JOHN MANGINE
Updated: Aug 6
The Observatory on campus, bathed in early sunlight
“What makes photography a strange invention is that its primary raw materials are light and time.” This simple observation by English art critic, John Berger, is essential for good photography. Berger, who has since passed, explored visual culture and wrote the influential book, Ways of Seeing.
I keep Berger’s words in mind as I spend a fair amount of time trying to capture images on Allegheny’s campus; a place that has been photographed extensively, so things like timing and capturing good light and angles are crucial when trying to show different perspectives of, what is in my opinion, a very beautiful campus with its combination of landscape and architecture.
The Beloved Allegheny College Wall on North Main Street
When I was asked to produce the images for Allegheny’s official calendar last year, I spent a lot of time sitting and waiting for light. While waiting, I was able to observe a lot of student interactions on campus that could only be witnessed by slowing down, waiting, and letting the time pass. As a staff member that works all day with a large number of students in a fast-paced environment, it’s always been a positive experience for me to just get out on campus in a less stressful way and observe our college community.
Sometimes these student interactions are good opportunities for a photograph, sometimes they are funny, and sometimes they allow you to see students that you know helping others. There are times I’ll come away with a few shots that I’m excited about that I think will be useful for the college to share the charm of our campus, and other times where I didn’t get what I was after, but still got a sense of relaxation by just waiting for light, taking a breath from a crazy day, and relaxing for a few minutes.
Students Hanging Outside the Pelletier Library, Allegheny College
There are times when I’m specifically trying to capture a shot with students in the frame and times where I’m just looking for a shot of a particular locale on campus without a single person in the photograph. I’ve been out on campus a couple of times since everyone’s world changed about a month and a half ago, and the empty campus, while still beautiful at the beginning of spring (even with a typical Meadville April snowstorm) is so strange without our Allegheny community. Having no one walk through the frame while you compose a shot and wait for the light is very surreal.
Even though I can’t see them through my lens right now, the way our Allegheny community has come together isn’t hard to see. It’s impossible to count the ways in which students, faculty, and staff have connected to try to support each other through this arduous and monumental event in modern human history. It’s pretty remarkable how hard everyone in our community has worked and collaborated to complete this semester, assist one another, and show understanding for just how difficult accomplishing everything from home is for our circle.
Ford Chapel at Allegheny College
I’m not going to suggest that any of us took our face to face interactions and time together for granted, but I’m hoping that one very positive thing that can stem from all of this is that we will take a little more time to appreciate and value each other when this is all over.
I know that I’m eagerly anticipating the day I look through the viewfinder of my camera, and I see students, faculty and staff interacting and enjoying our campus and each other again. Until then, I’ll continue to try and capture images of Allegheny for our community that I know is missing the campus as much as it misses them.
~~ John Mangine (Director of Disability Services@Allegheny College & Avid Photographer)
SEE MORE OF JOHN'S CREATIVE WORK HERE
IF THESE PHOTOGRAPHS BROUGHT BACK A FLOOD OF NOSTALGIA, THEN WE HOPE GATORS EVERYWHERE WILL DONATE TO SUPPORT THEIR PEERS WHO ARE COUNTING ON THEIR AWESOMENESS. THANK YOU!