The well-dressed and unassuming Casey Roberts circled an untouched table of cookies and snacks early Monday evening. The crisp, ivory walls of the 5.4.7 Art Center in Greensburg adorned with sunsets and a captured crescendo of a Christian rock concert, Roberts is the evening’s artist on display. The Barclay College graduate turned campus media and marketing guru says he is blessed. While other photographers struggle finding a career, he has found a way to do what he loves for a living.
“I was still seeing my friends here at Barclay after I graduated in 2010,” said Roberts. “I’d joke around with them like ‘oh, I’d come back and work for Barclay, doing photos and media for basically a place to live and something to eat.’ And that’s kind of how it worked out.”
Living with his parents and working for a local landscaping company, Roberts jumped at a chance in January 2011 to return to his alma mater as the head of marketing and media.
“I do what I enjoy doing,” said Roberts. “I have five or six part time jobs and they all involve photography or sound in some way. I was never very good at the business side; marketing myself. I tried to get into photography in Wichita. It was so big and I didn’t know anyone. I had a personal connection with people out here. There are always different projects and different things to do that come up in the course of everyday life.”
Roberts, a Wichita native, bought his first digital camera in junior high school.
“I would take photos of events or if we went on Mission trips,” he recalled. “I’d also take photos at a local youth group club. They had Christian bands come in and I’d take photos there. I would put them on my website, that’s how I got started.”
A 2006 Wichita-South High School grad and member of the Northridge Friends Church, Roberts cut his teeth taking snapshots of youth trips and music performances. While his interested have expanded, he still prefers the excitement of a live performance to studio work.
“Concerts and events are my favorite things to photograph. Those are the things I’ve always enjoyed. Sports and music; drama and performances, those are the things I enjoy photographing.”
Roberts has earned the reputation as one of most approachable and talented photographers in Kiowa County.
He takes nearly all of the promotional photos for Barclay College.
He’s contributed to numerous publications on behalf of the college, as well as covered social and community events in Haviland.
Page 2 of 2 - Roberts is also a regular contributing photographer to The Signal, providing photographs of Barclay Bears athletics and “campus life.”
He also works part time for the Haviland Friends Church, working on video projects and operating the soundboard.
He also does graphic design and newsletters for the college.
“I’d say that I have been gifted,” said Roberts when asked how his faith informs his work. “God gave me these gifts; he gave me my ability to learn things quickly and understand photography. I don’t really think about the technical aspects as I’m shooting, I just kind of do it. Things catch my eye and that’s a gift from God. It’s one of the ways he’s blessed me. It’s also one of the ways he’s given me to bless others. I can use my gift to help Barclay College and the Friend’s Church.”
Roberts also does some freelance work, though he says he is not very good at marketing himself, he does portraits and some studio work on the side.
“It something that is kind of tough to deal with. I do have to charge, because equipment is expensive. I also want to provide that at a reasonable price. Sometimes I do stuff for cheap or free and sometimes I am compensated well.”
In the digital age, when nearly everyone has powerful cameras and media sharing at the tip of their fingers, Roberts says there is still room for true artistic photography in an expanding photo-democratized world.
At one time, professional camera equipment was only available to those who could afford it. Now, a trip to the nearest big-box chain store can put professional tools in the hands of the average Joe for only a few hundred dollars.
“It comes down to having a creative eye and being able to know when to take the photo but also the technical aspects of creating that photo,” said Roberts. “People might be able to go out and buy a fancy camera and take photos that are good for their purposes, but they may not be an artistic photo.”
Roberts’ photography is on display at the 5.4.7 Art Center in Greensburg until next month where the installation will move to Origin’s Coffee in Haviland. You can see more of his photography at his website CaseyRoberts.net or at kiowacountysignal.com
A Kiowa County Creative is a new series exploring the diverse and eclectic artists in Kiowa County. This multi-part series will focus on current and former artists from Kiowa County. Do you know a Kiowa County artist? Send us an email with your suggestion.