Senior Sendoff: The man behind the camera

Ben Caylor celebrates his 10th birthday with his favorite brownie cookie crumble cake. Photo courtesy of Ben’s mom.


As a photographer, I didn’t really think I would have to write one of these things. But here we are, so strap in and please keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times. 

The first time I heard of the Collegian was during the second semester of my first year, back in the old days of 2019. Sheesh, that was so long ago. Well anyway, there I was: 19-year-old Ben with no idea what I was doing except that I kept telling people that I want to be a photojournalist for National Geographic. Side note: this is still true, but now instead of just naming the mountain I have to climb, I’m actually staring up at it from its base — figuratively, of course.

So there I am, first-year Ben with the new camera his parents got him as a high school graduation gift, interviewing for The Butler Collegian to be a photographer. Luckily, they gave me the job, as I wasn’t involved in much else on campus at the time.

As the years went by, I stuck with the Collegian and the photography section, honing my skills as a photographer and eventually becoming photo editor in my second semester of senior year. Since I basically taught myself, I’ve compiled some photography tips for instances that I have struggled with over the years. Also, I never knew Butler had photography classes — someone should have told me that. 

In my early years at the Collegian, I was a pretty shy kid. As a shy kid, photographing people was terrifying to me. Walking up to someone and asking their permission to photograph them or telling them how to stand for a photo was something young Ben would have fallen into an anxiety-induced coma over.

Usually, people trust the person behind the camera; if you can trust your capabilities and just have a casual conversation with the person, you’ll have a great time and maybe even make a new friend.

Another thing this shy guy struggled with was being comfortable carrying around a camera. So many times when I was out on assignments, I would feel like a stalker carrying around my camera in search of the perfect angle. My advice for this dilemma is to befriend your camera. It is your friend, so be proud of it. It’s the one thing that allows you to be creative and express yourself through your photos, so don’t think about what other people are thinking — just do you.

My last bit of advice is a little bit of a two-parter. First, if you really want to get into photography, try your best to get a spare lens. I know they’re hella expensive, but it is so worth it. Getting a lens with a different zoom will allow you to add so much more variety to your photography. Second, go outside and bring your camera. There have been so many times when I have felt unmotivated and uninspired, but I promise that once you grab your camera and head outside, the creativity will start flowing.

The Collegian has taught me so much over the years and I cannot be more grateful for all of the good times, long nights and lessons I’ve learned along the way. I don’t really know how to end this sendoff, so I’ll say this: We are all humans that are still learning about life, so be kind, be yourself and try your best. No one can do it like you can.

Photos by Ben Caylor.


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