10 Things About: Bryan Oller, Staff Photographer/Communications
Where did you work before CC and what were you doing?
Before I came on board at CC, I was knee deep in a freelance photography career. I produced a lot of work for the Independent, The Denver Post, the Associated Press, Reuters, and several other local and national publications and agencies. Before I entered the world of freelance I was a staff photographer at The Gazette for several years.
Tell us the highlights of your professional career. What are your proudest achievements?
There have been too many for me to count! I was entrusted to cover Hurricane Katrina, the devastating floods and forest fires in Colorado, the Democratic National Convention in Denver, and several presidential visits. It’s been quite a ride. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears. Honestly, one of my favorite assignments as a newspaper photojournalist was covering CC’s Frozen Four run in 2005. I was given the task of following the team around the country when they made that incredible run. It was tough to watch the Tigers lose to DU in Columbus, Ohio, but what a season that was! It culminated with Marty Sertich winning the Hobey Baker Award the next day. I was right there in the front row when he held up the trophy and looked right into his mother’s eyes. That was an incredible moment to witness and capture with the camera. My proudest achievement in the last year was seeing some of my photographs being picked up by The New York Times and Time magazine. That was a huge honor for me.
What do you bring to this job?
I bring passion. Lots of passion. You’re only as good as your last photograph and there is always room to improve. That’s something someone told me a long time ago and it has stuck with me throughout my career. Every time I snap a photograph I imagine I am trying to catch a big fish. I truly love taking photographs as much as a fisherman loves catching the big one.
Who/what was the biggest influence on your career?
Without a doubt, CC alum Dave Burnett. I saw his work for the first time in my high school photography class and was instantly hooked. At The Gazette I was able to call Bob Jackson a co-worker. Bob took the photograph of Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald after President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Many consider that image to be the most important photograph of the 20th century. And I got to work every day with Bob! His presence in our photography department was a huge influence on my career.
What have you noticed about CC?
Everyone seems happy and I see so many smiling faces every day. And you cannot help but notice how hard the students, staff, and faculty work. This has already been reflected in the work I have produced so far.
Tell us a little about your background.
I’m an Air Force brat. My father met my mother here in Colorado Springs in 1966. We trotted around the country and parts of the world throughout my youth. We moved to Colorado Springs in 1982 and my parents swore they would never move again. I went to high school here and then went on to college at CU-Boulder. I met my wife, classically, in the newsroom. We have two kids, a boy and girl. Colorado Springs is my home. We have family roots in Colorado and parts of Northern New Mexico that can be traced back to the original Spanish colonists and Native American tribes. So it’s safe to say I’m rooted here.
What do you like to do when not photographing?
I hardly ever go anywhere without a camera. But naturally, I like to get into the mountains as much as possible. We’re always trying to figure out our next trip to Taos.
Do you have a favorite photo or photographer?
If I had to name a favorite photograph, it would be the image I took after my daughter was born and my wife and son are lying in the bed at the hospital. My son is seen in the photo holding his baby sister for the first time. That image tugs at my heart every time I look at it.
What is your passion?
I am passionate about my family and my children. But when it comes to photography, I am passionate about how powerful a medium it really is. I cannot imagine myself doing anything else other than working with a camera. It’s a major part of my life.
How do you think your photography will benefit CC?
CC now has a staff photographer. This means many, many opportunities to capture the uniqueness of the campus, the students, faculty, and staff, and the overall vibe that makes CC such an amazing place. Everyday something historic to the college takes place. And I have a chance to be right there to document things as they happen. It is such an honor to be a part of it! Colorado College is amazing and there is something beautiful happening every day. I am looking forward to capturing as much of it as I can with my camera and all the passion I bring to the craft.
Wildcard question: Tell us a little about the photo of you above.
I’m in Haiti standing in front of the UN headquarters building, now a pile of rubble after the earthquake. It’s a newsworthy photo because I was following Bill Hybl around Port-Au-Prince when he was there as a diplomat trying to help establish
election systems following the Aristide coup. So it’s got a nice CC tie. And it was a very dangerous time over there. We were always under threat.