The challenge of photography

Because of its unusual slope as it crosses the Saint Joseph river to connect the two sections of the IU South Bend campus, the red bridge is hard to photograph well, especially if one’s purpose is to create the inspiring or magisterial images used to promote a university among citizens, potential students and their parents, legislators, and donors.

This image, featured on a section of the IU South Bend website in 2018, almost entirely masks the slope of the bridge, which is not easy to do.


Only the small section of the bridge at the far left here, on the north bank, is actually level where it passes over the roadway on Riverside Drive. The main part of the bridge portrayed here slopes substantially toward the bank on the south side of the river. The photographer and/or the Photoshop artist worked skillfully to obscure these facts in the promotional image. Many campus images mask the bridge’s unusual sloping structure as it passes over the river.

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This still image taken from a promotional video gives a better sense of the slope from the north to the south bank. The campus is proud of its mission serving the citizens of the region but tends to hide the architecture of the red bridge.

Rather than hiding the bridge’s design in its publications, I suggest that it should be foregrounded and even celebrated on t-shirts and buttons as a way of looking history, economics, and higher education in Indiana more squarely in the eye.

Knowing more about ourselves increases our chances to do good work going forward.