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Capturing 1,000 Images

BU photographer Kalman Zabarsky hits a milestone


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In the slideshow above, Kalman Zabarsky shares some of his favorite Close-up images and talks about his photography. Slideshow by Kimberly Cornuelle

BU photographer Kalman Zabarsky still recalls his reaction when he learned five years ago that the B.U. Bridge, the University’s weekly newspaper, was about to transform to a daily website, which would require a new photo each day for its homepage Close-up.

“I thought, I won’t even make it to Thanksgiving,” he says.

Zabarsky not only persevered, he’s on the threshold of a milestone worth noting. This week, his 1,000th Close-up appears on BU Today.

Occupying arguably the site’s most prominent piece of real estate, the upper left corner, Close-up photos provide a daily snapshot of life on campus, a chronicle of the sublime and the mundane, the whimsical and the serious. More often than not, the name attached to those photos has been Zabarsky’s.

Since the website’s launch in fall 2005, Zabarsky has taken his cameras to every corner of BU, capturing the University in every kind of weather, every kind of mood. He hopes his images lead viewers “to see the University in a new way,” he says.

Zabarsky (CFA’69) grew up on Thatcher Street, only two blocks from the Charles River Campus. He majored in painting at the College of Fine Arts and took a job shortly after graduation as a darkroom technician at BU, printing black-and-white photos and processing film. For the past 37 years, his official title has been photographer.

What does he look for when he’s scouting the next day’s Close-up? “I follow the light and see what it’s doing,” Zabarsky says, “or look for people doing interesting things or having interesting interactions.” His philosophy is simple: “I try to have fun. If I’m having a good time, great pictures happen.”

There’s no arguing that he has taken a lot of great pictures. He claims not to have a favorite. “I try not to look back,” he says. “It’s always about the next photo.”

But when pressed, he concedes that a few images pop to mind. One is a photo he took for a series he was shooting at St. Mary’s Street and Comm Ave. “The crosswalk was in shade and Marsh Plaza was in full sun,” he recalls. “There was a puddle that reflected the chapel. I set myself on the curb and the camera on the ground and photographed people as they jumped over the puddle. The blue sky was visited by beautiful puffy clouds, and the scene was getting more exciting by the moment.”

There are other indelible images. Zabarsky fondly remembers a photo he took of a young couple embracing. “She was starting her first day of class, and he was heading back to school in New York,” he says. “The photograph spoke of starting new things and those parts of your life that you miss.”

Another photo brings a smile: five students who “had just finished painting a friend’s apartment, and they were covered in paint, lying on the grass on the BU Beach, and laughing.” Capturing that moment, he says, was “pure joy.”

Zabarsky, who is happiest when he has a camera in his hand, admits he enjoys being a fixture on campus. “It’s exciting when people I don’t know stop me and ask, ‘Are you Kalman Zabarsky? Thank you for the great photos.’”

John O’Rourke can be reached at orourkej@bu.edu.


10 Comments on Capturing 1,000 Images

  • Almond Dhukka on 10.20.2010 at 7:25 am

    Congrats Kal! That’s incredible! I can’t even do a 365 project and you’re about to break 1000 [almost-continuous] shots!


  • Mirtha Cabello on 10.20.2010 at 8:31 am

    Kalman Zabarsky

    I feel proud and honored to have known Kalman Zabarksy for over 20 years. His pictures reflect the joy he shows when he takes the pictures – just as he said in his writings above.

    Here for a long life for Kalman Zabarsky!!! Go Kal!!

  • Anonymous on 10.20.2010 at 8:47 am

    KAl Zabarsky

    Happy 1000th, Kal

    BU wouldn’t look the same without you!

  • Anonymous on 10.20.2010 at 8:55 am

    Kalman Zabarsky - Where's his photo?

    In the slideshow voiceover, Mr. Zabarsky says he likes to be photographed himself. It’s a shame that a photo of him did not accompany the article. It would be nice to see the face of the man behind the lens, and it would further honor him for his contributions to the campus. His photos always capture the best face of BU and, in fact, have shaped the I look at the campus.

  • Rachel on 10.20.2010 at 9:12 am

    As a photojournalism student, I am always thoroughly impressed by Kalman’s beautiful photos. They really enhance the quality of BU Today. Congratulations!

  • Ed Stitt on 10.20.2010 at 9:39 am

    Kal Zabarsky

    Kal, you are AWESOME. TERRIFIC WORK!!!

  • Raul Fernandez on 10.20.2010 at 11:30 am

    Kal is the man!

    Thanks for profiling the great work of Kal Zabarsky. I would love to see the University (photo services) put together an exhibit of his most beloved works – there are so many to choose from!

  • Anonymous on 10.20.2010 at 12:28 pm

    Congratulations, Kal!

    A wonderful achievement for a clearly talented and accomplished Terrier! Happy 1000th, Kal!

  • Sue Kwong on 10.20.2010 at 5:01 pm

    Congrats, Kal!

    Congrats on the 1000th, Kal! I can only imagine the rest that is in your storage at home haha. Your beautiful photographs are what I look forward to when I check my email/BU Today!

  • Anonymous on 10.20.2010 at 11:14 pm


    WOW! I have always wondered who took these amazing pics in their most natural and pure form! Now I know…Your photography is just awesome:)

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