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Here goes a photographer's attempt to write

farewell column

This is my first and last time writing something more than a photo caption for The Chronicle, and honestly, I’m nervous. Over my four years at The Chronicle, my life has existed through the eye of a camera, whether it’s enjoying a visiting speaker or experiencing some of the greatest college basketball games. I believed that my images would convey the love I had for The Chronicle; after all, a picture is worth a thousand words, right? But after thinking long and hard about what I wanted to leave The Chronicle with, I didn’t want it to just be pictures. I wanted to use my words to express my emotions at least once, and so with that, here it goes.  

I came to Duke with the most spectacular photography skills; those iPhone photos were really top notch back in 2018! I wanted more than a phone, though, so right before coming to Duke, I used my savings to buy my first camera. Would I actually use the camera? Who knew? But buy it I did. Staring at the unused camera in my freshman dorm room in Brown, I decided to reach out to The Chronicle to see if there was a way for me to pursue photography at Duke. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had no idea that my email to Bre Bradham was the first step to a truly unforgettable Duke experience.  

I attended a few meetings over the fall semester, and surprisingly Sujal didn’t drive me away (just kidding, she was the greatest mentor). I’m not sure whether it was my late Sunday night conversations with Sujal during sports production, the cozy environment forged by the decades of vintage photos covering the walls of 301 Flowers, the late-night baseball that often resulted with the ball hit out the window or the exhilarating Duke basketball games, but I stayed.  

I’ve looked back on the photos I took in freshman year, my first sports event being women’s golf. I remember how sweaty I felt following around senior photographers in September around the golf course, then to the soccer field the next weekend, and so on. The utter uselessness of those photos. I’d never done sports photography before, so I didn’t know what to do. Struggling to find the right camera settings during late night soccer games, missing the dunk nearly every time at basketball games, grainy pictures because I thought a higher ISO was all you needed. Wow, I went wrong in so many places. But honestly, I’m glad I did. If not, I wouldn’t have reached out for help from Mary Helen or Charles or Sujal or Henry. I wouldn’t have understood that an ISO of 640 or 800 was all I needed for Cameron Indoor. I wouldn’t have learned how to make a cutout for production nights. There’s so much more that I could go on for, but you get the point. The Chronicle has taught me so much over the years, and beyond that it’s given me the most amazing opportunities.  

Beyond tackling the list of yellow tasks that Derek and then Evan gave me on Sundays, I’ve made amazing memories: quick runs to Sundae Sunday with Jake and Nathan during production nights, In N’ Out burger and fries with the writers after a great win in Vegas, puppy photoshoots at the Duke Puppy Kindergarten, arguments with Aaron over who gets to cover which game. I’ve gotten the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to photograph some unforgettable basketball games: the Louisville comeback in 2019, the Duke vs. UNC buzzer beater in 2020, the Gonzaga game in Vegas and, most recently, the Final Four. Over the years, I grew from someone who did not even know what to do with my new camera, only fascinated by the power of the iPhone 6 camera, into a girl whose entire life revolves around photography. I thank The Chronicle so deeply for that.  

I found friendships throughout multiple departments, not only in photo. I find myself defending The Chronicle when someone says something against it. I had the most spectacular and eventful weekend, or even day-long, vacations. I’m going to miss the two flights of stairs that tire me out endlessly every time I want to go to 301 Flowers. I’m going to miss late night sports photo editing. I’m going to miss taking virtual classes from the comfort and coziness of our couches. I’m going to miss this home. Thank you Chronicle for being a rock in my time here at Duke; you gave me a community to rely on and a place to belong. But alas, all good things come to an end. And while this may be the end for us, you will forever be with me with every next step I take. In my heart, in my mind, in my photos. 

Simran Prakash is a Trinity senior and served as photography editor for The Chronicle’s 116th volume. She is immensely thankful to Charles, Mary Helen, Henry and Sujal for all their guidance and help throughout her time with ChronPhoto. She would love to thank V.117’s photo editors, Bella Bann and Aaron Zhao, for their work in picking up ChronPhoto after a virtual year and wishes Becca Schneid and Winnie Lu the best of luck running photo next year. She is grateful for Jake S, Nathan, Maria, Nithin and everyone else who made the Chronicle such a welcoming and inclusive community for her over the last four years.  


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