June 19, 2023

Chandler’s lens captures campus joy

Chandler with his camera equipment, seen here photographing New Student Enrollment on city campus.

Chandler with his camera equipment, seen here photographing New Student Enrollment on city campus.

After 15 years serving as director of photography for University Communication and Marketing, most everyone on campus knows — and loves — Craig Chandler for his friendly demeanor and inimitable laugh. And even if you don’t know him, you definitely know his work.

Chandler’s eye for emotion and knack for being in the right place has created some of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s most indelible imagery. His lens has seen it all, from capturing groundbreaking research, community impacts and celebrations to charting the changing seasons on campus — even the occasional foray into nature photography with campus squirrels.

Campus squirrels seem to be anticipating the return of students, faculty and staff on campus for the fall semester.
Craig Chandler | University Communication

Even after 15 years, Chandler is still excited about the next shoot.

“I tell people that behind every door there’s something amazing. And I still haven’t opened every door here,” he said. “The energy here is incredible.”

Equally as incredible is the creative flare that marks his work.

“I’ve been here long enough where people know me and are happy to go along with my crazy ideas,” he said, citing his wall of 240-plus portraits of Engler students in the Dinsdale Learning Commons on East Campus as an example. “I love working with the students to capture the essence of what they’re doing.”

Chandler joined Nebraska in 2007 after a career in photojournalism that included time at the Omaha World Herald. There, Craig led projects documenting unique sights in all 93 Nebraska counties and all remaining one-room schoolhouses, nurturing a love for the state that shines in his work as a Husker.

A student from Judy Wu-Smart's UNL Bee Lab poses for a photo wearing a bee beard. The photo, shot by University Communication's Craig Chandler, recently earned an award.
Craig Chandler | University Communication and Marketing

“For me, what makes a good photo is the emotion,” he shared. “If people like a photo I’ve taken, I know that they’ve felt a connection to this place through my photos — I just love that.”

The 68 (and counting) graduation ceremonies that he’s photographed have made for some of his favorite, and most emotional, images. For him, it never gets old.

“It’s the joy factor, for me,” he said. “Everyone is just so happy.”

And though the summer months bring an emptier campus with fewer students to photograph, it also means that Chandler’s favorite time of year for taking pictures is around the corner.

“My absolute favorite is the week before fall classes begin,” he said. “The events, the tunnel walk, the BBQs, the sounds — this place just comes alive.”