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Music to Your Eyes: Student Snaps Texas Wesleyan's Sweet Sounds

05.14.2024 | By: Texas Wesleyan University

What started as a personal desire to try something new and experience a fresh creative challenge has become a way to capture and celebrate the performances Texas Wesleyan’s music students.

Jacob Johnson, a music student himself, takes amazing photographs of his fellow students and professors in the music department. “I’m officially the 'unofficial' photographer of the music department,” he laughs.

From concerts and recitals to practices and portraits, he captures the drama, intensity, work and joy of live music performances and musicians — and he does it all with a vintage film camera that was last made in 1989. But that’s not nearly as old as the first film camera he used, a Brownie Six-16 (a Kodak camera from between 1934 and 1942), a gift from his mother and a family heirloom. This kind of box camera has little in common with today’s imaging devices and, in fact, the type of film it uses is no longer available. However, with the use of adapters, he is able to make currently-available film fit the camera, he persisted through the difficulties because he loved the process, and “After ruining many rolls of film, I learned a lot,” Jacob explains.

In fact, he learned so much and perfected his technique to the degree that many of the music department’s professors use his photos in their concert programs and professional musicians ask him for photo shoots.  

So how did this multi-instrumentalist decide that his next instrument would be mechanical, not musical? The hard work of a professional recording session left him ready for a new creative challenge, and the gift of a Brownie came at the perfect time.

Now that he uses a different camera, it’s with him every day. As a result, he has unique and unlimited access to scenes that others don’t. He captures this privileged view in a style that evokes the look of classic photos of music artists. “It’s a look you only get when you use film,” he explains.

Jacob is at TXWES after a few years away from school. “Texas Wesleyan has made it easy for me as a non-traditional student,” he explains. And now he makes it easy for fellow students to show their hard work and talent, bringing them the recognition they deserve.

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At Texas Wesleyan, we have a rich history and a Texas-sized reputation. As stewards of the University, it is our responsibility to build a future as bright as our past.