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Kansas Wesleyan University

Tanner Colvin ’11 first picked up a camera as a sophomore in high school, shooting on film for the school newspaper and yearbook and developing film in a darkroom.

Now, 22 years later, the Kansas Wesleyan University graduate is a videographer/photographer for global company Vortex, headquartered in Salina, and one of the top freelance photographers in the Salina area.

“I originally came in as a communications major and then switched over to digital arts photography, which really helped, because in communications I had blinders on; I just wanted to shoot sports,” Colvin said.

Though sports may still be one of the subjects he is most passionate about, his ability to “slow down and go through a more artistic approach” has allowed him to become a more well-rounded photographer.

This past fall, Colvin teamed with Wichita War Dancer to create the multimedia show “Weecha,” which appeared at The Gallery at Kansas Wesleyan late last year.

“I wanted to learn a new skill, and he was more than happy to allow me to use him as a subject,” Colvin said. “Working with him allowed me to develop more as an artist, and I felt it was a unique show. It made me slow down a little bit and realize that I don’t have to always be shootin’ and scootin’. ”

Colvin believes that working toward and earning his degree at a school the size of Kansas Wesleyan gave him more opportunities to learn both in the classroom and out in the field.

“Those critical thinking skills that you get at a small college by being exposed to other avenues have really helped (me) in the marketing side of things,” Colvin said. “My experience being able to shoot next to some of the people with the Salina Journal while I was in college was pretty big on the journalistic side of things.”

Colvin worked as a freelance photographer at the Journal.

“When you start talking more about fine art and how to compose things and deal with lighting, that’s learned in the classroom. How to shoot and work with other photographers, that’s just going out and doing it,” Colvin said.

As a new student on the KWU campus, Colvin may have been a little stubborn in his ways, but professor Lori Wright, now the chair of the Department of Art and Design, was one of those who helped mold and guide him into the success he is having now.

“I have had the absolute pleasure of knowing Tanner since 2008,” Wright said. “While studying at KWU, he had a developed skill in sports photography and little interest in other areas. Throughout his time at KWU, I saw him open up to photography as a full art form. After college, I watched him grow in photography exponentially. He now creates refined work, whether it be nature, documentary, commercial or sports photography. His eye for angle and lighting is remarkable. Tanner loves what he does and does it well.”

Story by Dan Froehlich