Staff You Should Know: Sam Castro

If a picture is worth 10,000 words, then the person behind the camera must have good stories to tell. Sam Castro has been a photographer for the past 25 years, spending the past three years as UNI's photojournalist, capturing life on the UNI campus.

Sam Castro
Castro doing a photo shoot with UNI's official mascot, TC.

The students at UNI are what Castro likes best about his job. He jokes that, "If the job had pie, I'd like it more." This sense of humor is how he keeps the photo shoots light-hearted and fun. "[The students] keep me young; I have so much fun with them. We have a great time clownin' around and getting photos."

Castro has had a wide variety of profile shoots with students. He's had students climb trees, sled, wear Christmas decorations as jewelry and more to capture the lively spirit of UNI students. "There aren't many jobs where you get to play."

It's not all fun and games. For every one hour Castro spends in the field, he has to spend one hour processing the images. This includes filing pictures, doing photo edits and helping clients. The database currently has more than 500,000 pictures.

Some of the photo shoots Castro does aren't easy. "The most challenging shoot was when Michelle Obama visited. Maybe it was my imagination, but I could just feel the eyes of a squad of Secret Service agents on me at any given moment. That feels kind of unnerving if you think about it too long. So I didn't. At the time."

One of the many challenges he has to face is trying to get different, creative shots at the numerous ceremonies on campus. "I've only found so many ways to get a photo of someone at a podium or at a table or in front of a computer."

Photos at UNI are used in many different ways. From posters, brochures and window clings to postcards, billboards and TV and magazine ads, UNI's pictures are everywhere.

It's important to Castro for people to be able to look back and see what UNI was like. He aims to capture and preserve UNI history. "Having a history minor and an interest in historical photos, I geek out when it comes to this stuff." In the Rod Library Archives, approximately 200,000 slides, negatives and photos are stored beginning in the 1880's.

While on campus, Castro likes to engage with diverse populations as much as possible. This may partly come from his Puerto Rican heritage. "I make an effort to be able to represent every culture with fairness and equality with every photo I shoot. I want everyone to feel welcome."

Time with his wife and children is important to Castro. "My wife is awesome, and I try to give my kids as much of me as I can before I drop dead." Castro also enjoys his time with fiction and science fiction books and movies.

"Nobody gets anywhere alone," is his philosophy when it comes to being successful in life. "Hundreds of people helped me get here today. Because of that, it's my responsibility to help others when the opportunity arises."

Pictures have an effect on everyone that sees them. This gives Castro an awesome opportunity to showcase the UNI community. "I take pride in my work."

Here are just a few of Castro's favorite UNI photos:
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On the way to Homecoming 2012
UNI football game against NDSU
TAPP Fashion Show
Profile photo shoot with Janessa
2011 MVC track meet

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Profile photo shoot with Riley
Improv photos
Spring 2013 commencement
2011 swim meet
Profile photo shoot with Catherine

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