If it isn’t obvious from the legions of glowing Genesee Valley sunset photos that grace students’ Instagram feeds, Geneseo is an incredibly photogenic place. Campus photographer Keith Walters ’11 has become an expert at capturing the campus and its inhabitants at its most action-packed or understatedly beautiful moments.
Whether it’s the first day of spring, Relay for Life or some guy juggling chainsaws in the MacVittie College Union, Walters—with his arsenal of seven cameras in tow—photographs Geneseo happenings from the unique and meticulous perspective of a former student.
After graduating from Geneseo with a degree in business administration, Walters spent the summer working as a multimedia coordinator at a camp for kids in the Adirondacks. When he received a large package from Geneseo that summer, he asked, “Is this my degree?” before realizing it was a job offer for a nine-month campus photography contract. Four years later, he continues to work as the main documentarian of Geneseo events, while also managing his own photography side business.
“I really enjoy shooting anything where the campus community comes together because it kind of gets me back into the element of what it felt like being a student and I get to see students having all the same memories that I have,” he said.
The Webster, New York-native is almost entirely self-taught; his only formal photography classes were in high school. He was inspired to pursue photography seriously after attending an exhibit of work by photographer Ansel Adams at the George Eastman House in Rochester. “I fell in love with it, my parents got me a camera and it’s history from there,” Walters said.
Inspired by the water near his childhood home and his love for the outdoors, he started mostly by focusing on landscape photography. In order to become a professional, however, Walters knew that he needed to start photographing people. Walters turned to The Lamron, working as an assistant photo editor to learn about photojournalism and later did an internship with Rochester Business Journal.
“When I was student, I remember the first time I saw my picture published in the [The Lamron] and I freaked out,” he said. “It was like a high, seeing my work around campus. It was a cool experience and that really kind of hooked me.”
Now his work is everywhere—adding personality to campus web pages and brochures, spotlighting accomplished students and faculty—it even fills a Geneseo calendar. It isn’t just for show, however. Walters also documents the historic moments that define Geneseo and has contributed a few landmark moments of his own as well.
Aside from working at Mary Jemison Dining Hall and participating in Students Eliminating Ableism Through Advocacy while he was a student, Walters was a member of the co-ed a cappella group Between the Lines. He proposed to his now wife Joanna Walters ‘13 née Duell at a Between the Lines concert in fall 2012. Joanna Walters––a graphic designer––and Keith Walters create collaborative projects like stop motion videos for a local YMCA.
The Lamron completed an Invasion of Privacy on Walters just as he was about to graduate in spring 2011. Referring to his then upcoming summer plans, before he knew he would become Geneseo’s campus photographer, he said, “I just fell into that, so if I could keep falling into things, that would be great.”
As of now, Walters said he hopes to continue photographing Geneseo. “The fact that I get to work here and contribute in my own unique way is really special to me,” he added.