Capturing 1,000 Images
BU photographer Kalman Zabarsky hits a milestone
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 email@example.com Comments