E-town comm professor explores photography’s role in creation of NPS
March 5, 2017   //   By:   //   Campus & Community, Campus and Community

As an avid photographer, Katherine Hughes realizes how lucky she is to hitch a ride in her parent’s RV and travel across the United States. Having spent years taking photographs wherever she went, Hughes has assembled an impressive collection of pictures. Each day, she endeavors to share her photographs and inspire others to explore the world around them.

On March 2, 2017, Hughes, assistant professor of communications at Elizabethtown College, talked about “Celebrating 100 Years of Our National Parks.” Through a Power Point, featuring photos captured by photographers dating from the 1800s to the present, Hughes demonstrated how capturing shots of natural beauty helped to create and protect our National Parks.

In a small yet packed College conference room, Hughes began the discussion by asking individuals about their experience with various national parks across the nation. While some students and staff had to find seating on the floor or just outside the door, it did not stop them from joining in the conversation and answering with strong affirmations and admiration for the parks. Many mentioned the breathtaking beauty of the parks’ features, and Hughes used this sentiment to demonstrate how photographs taken by William Henry Jackson in the mid-1800s were key in creating and protecting those parks.

Photographs, she explained, essentially made national parks commercial. An example of this, she said, are the rows of postcards one can usually find with pictures of parks’ major landscapes and features.

… check out the National Parks Service website and see what’s nearby.”

Ansel Adams, a photographer in the early 1900s, also was key to bringing awareness to national parks, Hughes said. He worked closely with President Theodore Roosevelt, who created the U.S. Forest Service, which established national forests, parks, reserves and monuments.

In 2016, when the National Park Service turned 100, it marked its centennial celebration with the tagline “Find Your Park.” The program, Hughes said, encouraged people to get out and capture photos or videos in order to discover the national parks and programs in their own neighborhoods.

The initiative rolled to a close at the end of last year, but the pictures and videos submitted are only now being displayed to the public, allowing the celebration to flow into 2017, as well. Hughes showcased some of the photographs taken during the program, highlighting its large success in drawing national attention to the parks.

“I would encourage anyone exploring the national parks to check out the National Parks Service website and see what’s nearby,” Hughes said. “It can be an effective way to explore an area and get to know what’s in your backyard.”

After the presentation, students and faculty and staff members were invited to explore the photo exhibit Hughes had created prior to her presentation. The walls of the conference room were lined with framed photos of various national parks, ranging from images of the Liberty Bell to the geysers of Yellowstone and were a great way to obtain small snapshots of the beauty of the parks Hughes had mentioned.

Sophomore Electrical Engineering major Hui Liu seemed to enjoy the idea of visiting these places on his own.

“I learned that I live in a really isolated world,” Liu said. “There are millions of places I haven’t been to. In my near future, I hope to visit some of the National Parks. And, now, I kind of want to be a photography major.”

The photos are currently on exhibit in the Brossman Student Center, Room 211, at Elizabethtown College. The exhibit is open to the public through the end of the semester in May.


~ E-town NOW guest writer is Kayleigh Kuykendall — Kuykendall is a senior English Literature major and a Creative Writing and Spanish double minor. She is the Campus Life assistant editor.

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