Hometown: Lake Oswego, Oregon
Major/Minor: Double Major in Business and Journalism
Celebrity Crush: Kanye West
Photography enthusiast, sports junky and native Oregonian, Spenser Sutherland finds significance in capturing life’s precious moments. Even as a full-time student at the University of Oregon, Sutherland continuously seeks opportunities to grow academically outside of the classroom. You can find him walking around campus with a camera covering his face and some flashy Nike Jordans on his feet.
What is your favorite class you have taken so far at the UO?
I’m starting to dive deeper into the upper-level courses in both of my majors right now, which is allowing me to take classes that are more associated with my interests. I think my favorite classes will be coming up soon, but thus far Photojournalism has been challenging and rewarding. It’s allowed me to be creative and competitive and has taught me that I still have much to learn in the realm of photography. Professor Dan Morrison is amazingly blunt and his criticism is helpful. The sequence of Photojournalism is going to be a ton of fun because of where it takes me and the stories I’ll be able to tell through photos.
What lead you to photography? And what is your favorite aspect?
Growing up I think I always had a curiosity for photography and cameras and capturing moments. I never really had anything more than disposable cameras or point-and-shoots, but they always piqued my interest. When I got to college I took a journalism class with Dr. Bill Ryan and on the first day he scolded us for wasting time and not being proactive. That night I went back to my dorm and read everything I could on cameras that I could afford. I had a small business selling Nike/Jordan shoes, so I saved my pennies and bought a used Canon a couple weeks later off eBay. I’ve just been exploring photography since.
What has been your favorite experience at the UO so far?
This last football season, I brought my camera to all the games and photographed the student section and my friends. The energy and memories from those nights will be memorable for a long time. It’s become a collection of how passionate students and fans are– some of that gets lost when everyone is focused on the success of the team and fixated on the game. I tried to step back and take it all in. I recommend that students take a minute at every game to just stop, look up at everyone and see the raw, authentic emotion. That’s not necessarily something that happens forever in life.
Are there any other professors or people who have really guided you along the way?
I owe Dr. Ryan a lot for the motivation– I haven’t thanked him yet, but I’m hoping I can get to a point where I can say, “I’m here because you inspired me.” Professors Dan Morrison and Sung Park are also guiding me a lot right now with critiques and opportunities.
What organizations are you involved with on campus?
I tend to go at things solo, so right now I’m not affiliated with any organizations. I’m looking for the right opportunity and fit.
Tell us about your photography experience.
I’m self-taught for the most part, so it’s been trial and error. I did a bit of studio product shooting at my internship at Jones Sports Company. I’ve had a couple other photos published in magazines for various shoots. I prefer to just take my camera around Portland, Eugene or on a road trip and just see what happens. My experience is still young.
Why is this your passion?
It’s all about the capturing of moments. I’m excited to look back 50 years from now and think of what these photos mean to me now versus then. Each photo is a little time capsule. I’m excited to share these photos in the future and see how much has changed.
What type of camera do you use to shoot?
I started with a Canon Rebel T3i. I recently purchased a Canon 5D Mark III. I also just bought a 35mm Canon A-1, but film is a completely different beast to learn.
Tell us about your internship.
Jones Sports Company sells golf bags, and I grew up around the game. It’s been great to do writing and a bit of photography for them. They’re a relatively new startup and I was there from nearly day one. Seeing everyone’s work turn into tangible growth is special.
Do you prefer the shoot in black and white? Why?
Black and white is my true love with photography. Basically every photo starts as black and white and only becomes color if it really needs to be. I like the simplicity and the truthfulness of it. Colors can be so manipulated and distorted with software that it loses some of the authenticity. I’m trying to be versatile and branch out, but I think black and white will always be the go-to aesthetic.
Interested in seeing more of Spenser’s work?
Take a look at his website spensersutherland.com or follow his photography Instagram page @spensersutherland