My Photographic Journey

'That’s when I notice something about those 2,370 images: half of them were made in or of the Z. Smith Reynolds Library …'

Fall 2017

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“SUBMIT 10 PHOTOS FOR THE PHOTOGRAPHY ISSUE OF THE MAGAZINE.”

Sounds simple. Let’s check the photo archive:

hmm, 
112,462 PHOTOS.

I’ll never be able to look at all of them. Let’s check that folder where I put my favorites:

2,370 PHOTOS.

Better, but how do I narrow down 20 years at Wake Forest into 10 photos?

I love everything about this job: photographing student life and our beautiful campus, making portraits and covering big events — is it even possible to curate a coherent set of images?

That’s when I notice something about those 2,370 images:

half of them were made in or of the Z. Smith Reynolds Library, easily my favorite place on campus.

THE THEME FOR THIS PORTFOLIO OF IMAGES REVEALS ITSELF.

On one level, I make these photographs simply as part of my job as the University photographer.

But it goes beyond that on a personal level —

ZSR INSPIRES ME IN THE WAY THAT FEW OTHER PLACES DO.

RISING ABOVE the campus, the cupola is a recognizable symbol of Wake Forest, visible from many locations in Winston-Salem, and it makes an excellent subject as well as a background for portraits.

The interior spaces of the library, BUSTLING with student activity, are a wonderful place to find those small, intimate moments that make candid people-photography so compelling.

The library is a primary center of academic and student life on campus, and as such

IT IS THE FIRST PLACE I GO LOOKING FOR NEW PHOTOGRAPHS, OR WHEN I WANT INSPIRATION.

I’m now in my 21st YEAR of documenting life at Wake Forest, which provides a long-term perspective and the opportunity to go back to the same places many times for new photographs.

OVER THE YEARS, I HAVE BEEN FORTUNATE TO EXPLORE CHANGES IN THE LIBRARY ITSELF, as well as the students and other members of the community who inhabit it.


Ken Bennett, Wake Forest’s director of photography, has been capturing life in the University community for the last 20 years. Before that he spent 10 years as a freelance photojournalist in Richmond, Virginia. Ken was named the 2014 University Photographer of the Year by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, a Master of the Profession by the University Photographers’ Association of America, and in 2015, Wake Forest Employee of the Year. An avid outdoorsman, he enjoys hiking, bluegrass and Old Time music and smoky single malt whiskies.

(Photo of Ken by Nora Ann Bennett)

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