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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Grinnell Artists: Justin Hayworth

Photo by Ariel Richards.
Photo by Ariel Richards.

Any Grinnell student can recognize certain iconic images of the campus: the picture of the exterior of Burling on the Grinnell website, images of students walking through snow on the desktop of school computers or pictures of laughing students on promotional materials for the College. Photos of Grinnell appear in locations ranging from Instagram to the Des Moines airport. All of these images trace back to Justin Hayworth, who has been Grinnell’s content specialist in photography and videography for the past seven years.

Hayworth’s journey to his position as the College’s photographer began at a young age. He first became interested in photography when he was in sixth grade, inspired by his older brother who took pictures for his high school’s newspaper. By eighth grade, Hayworth said he had his heart set on being a photojournalist.

Hayworth said that a big part of what draws him to photography is meeting new people and learning about their lives. He also enjoys the ability to “go places that not everyone else gets to go and see things that not everyone else gets to see.”

Contributed by Justin Hayworth.

Having studied journalism at Kansas State University, Hayworth worked as a photographer for newspapers for fourteen years, including a position at the Des Moines Register. At the Register, Hayworth said he honed his skills through friendly competition, working side-by-side with accomplished photographers vying to take the best pictures.

However, the Register began laying off many of its employees, part of a larger trend of financial strain placed on newspapers in the internet age. Hayworth realized he needed to find a new job.

“The good and bad of deciding early in life what you want to do is sometimes you don’t have a plan B and I didn’t really have a plan B,” he said.

However, Hayworth found the job listing for his current position at Grinnell through a friend and realized that Grinnell was an environment he was excited to work in.

Contributed by Justin Hayworth.

“The idea of social justice and creating an environment where everyone could get an education really resonated with me, so I was like, ‘Sure, let’s give this a try’,” he said.

Now that he has worked at the College for seven years, Hayworth said one of the best parts of his job is being able to photograph the unique people of Grinnell.

“There’s never a shortage for interesting people doing interesting work. So, it really makes the job easy a lot of times in that it’s not hard to find those sorts of things … The real challenge is trying to find the time to capture all those different possibilities,” he said.

Hayworth said that his job at the College gives him a lot of creative freedom. He will receive general guidelines for images that the College needs but is able to interpret assignments however he wants.

This freedom enabled him to create an image that won best of show for a University Photographers Association of America competition. Tasked with taking pictures of Professor Charlotte Christiansen for an article about her deep space research, Hayworth brought Christiansen and some of her Mentored Advanced Project students to the Conard Environmental Research Area late at night and photographed the milky way behind them.

Contributed by Justin Hayworth.

“That picture was probably one of the best pictures I’ve taken since I’ve been at the College,” Hayworth said. A lot of work went into making the pictures turn out well: Hayworth said he spent several hours researching when the Milky Way is most visible in the night sky. “Once I did the research and knew what I needed for it to work, it was just a matter of me going out with the camera and being able to capture it,” he said.

A lot of Hayworth’s work is not researched and planned so far ahead of time, though, like a well-known picture of Gates tower with clouds and sunlight behind it that he took as he was getting ready to go home for the day.

Hayworth also often takes candid pictures of students around campus. He said he tends to start by finding places with good lighting, “and then it’s watching people and trying to capture moments, whether it’s someone studying really intently and you can tell they’re really engaged in what they’re doing, or they’re laughing as they take a break and they’re trying to blow off some steam, it’s just paying attention to people and watching for those short, fleeting moments that happen.”

Hayworth has extensive experience shooting newsworthy photos and moments on Grinnell’s campus, but his favorite photos that he has taken are much more personal.

He said, “Some of my favorite pictures are the pictures I take of my kids as they’re growing up and trying to capture that fleeting moment of them being children because it comes and goes very fast.”

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