Bring a Bit of Campus with You Through Photography

Hui Li ’21

Co-Chief Photographer/Chief Graphic Designer

Hello, everyone! My name is Hui Li. I am in the Class of 2021 – it’s hard to believe my class was once the youngest in the student body, and now we are the oldest! It feels strange to think that we’ll be graduating so soon!

If we haven’t already met at some point in the past three years, it’s nice to meet you now! I’d like to extend my warm wishes to you all, and I’d like to give an especially warm welcome to the Class of 2024!

I hope that you are well and staying safe. I can imagine that for many, if not all, of us in the Holy Cross community, the college’s recent decision to operate remotely next semester was very disappointing and a painful reminder of the unfortunate situation we have been in since earlier this year. It is very unfortunate that this is not the first time our community has experienced this; we had just returned from Spring Break this March when a vast majority of us packed our things, moved away from campus, and completed the rest of the spring semester online.

I remember reading the email about the campus closing to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on that cloudy Wednesday afternoon. Reading the recent notice with the news that we will be attending classes remotely again made me just as sad as the day I found out that I would not be completing the rest of my junior year on campus.

Photo by Hui Li ’21.
This was one of the last photos I took for The Spire before I moved back home last semester. This was from that somber March afternoon after we got the official announcement that we would be completing the rest of the year away from campus.

Since then, I often found myself reflecting about how I spent my time at Holy Cross when I was staying on campus. One of the first things that came to mind was my role on campus as a member of The Spire, the college’s student-run newspaper. Even though I stayed on the team and continued to provide content for our online editions every week until the end of the past semester, I missed fulfilling my role as a Spire photographer on Mt. Saint James. I used to create lists of upcoming events at Holy Cross and make sure that the Photo Team could get pictures for as many of our staff writers’ articles as possible. I’ve photographed a lot of events since I joined The Spire two years ago, and today, I haven’t gotten used to not having new events to cover. It feels like a large part of my role on campus has been put on pause since the day I moved back home.

Without any events to photograph but still plenty of topics to during a time of remote learning, I’ve been taking screenshots of relevant sites and online events for our articles on the college’s transition to a remote format. It’s nothing like walking to an event somewhere on campus, finding a good spot to sit or stand amongst other people in the community, and taking pictures amidst the action, but it is what I had to do to help the newspaper staff during a difficult time. As hard as it was to adjust to my new newspaper “photography” routine away from campus, I’m glad that The Spire could still create engaging content to keep the community connected and up-to-date during a time of social distance.

I did, however, find solace in the photographs I took before we left campus. Throughout each semester, the Photo Team takes scenic shots around Holy Cross and uploads them to a shared collection that we use to find images for articles that we might not have pictures for. Taking pictures around my campus has been my favorite hobby since I moved in as a first-year three years ago, and you can imagine that I’ve amassed quite a collection since then! Seeing our staff to continue picking photos from the Photo Team’s collection reminded me of the joy I felt when taking pictures on Mt. Saint James, and I was relieved to find out that I could still find and enjoy the photographs I took on campus in the past.

It was the warm feeling I got after looking at my pictures of campus that gave me a new idea last semester. I thought that since so many of us were completing our coursework on Zoom and could use pictures as our backgrounds for our webcams, it would be a lot of fun to share some of my campus shots with the community to use as Zoom backgrounds for classes and meetings! I got in touch with the Office of Student Affairs and, together with some of my fellow photographers on The Spire, we made some of the campus shots from the team’s collection available to everyone in the community!

Graphic by Hui Li ’21. Photos by Hui Li ’21, Kim Fetherson ’22, and Claudia Hajjar ’23.
Bring a bit of campus to you with our Holy Cross Zoom Backgrounds! All photos courtesy of The Spire Photo Team.

You may have seen a rectangle labeled “HC ZOOM BACKGROUNDS from The Spire!” at the bottom of the Office of Student Affairs’ weekly newsletters either last semester or over the summer. If you click on that icon, you’ll find yourself in a Google Drive folder. This is where I’ve organized our campus shots. Our photos have been on a Google Drive folder made viewable and downloadable by anyone with a Holy Cross email address since April.

Since then, I’ve heard from many faculty and staff members that people are using our photos as Zoom backgrounds in their classes and meetings! It made me so happy to learn that other people are also enjoying our pictures of campus! I’m glad that I could share my happiness with the community and help brighten the days of people I may not know but can relate to in this trying time.

I’m writing about this in time for the new semester so people who want something to liven up their Zoom backgrounds for classes and meetings, haven’t seen our photos, or are looking for something to bring a bit of Holy Cross to them can access our work. The link to the folder can be accessed here. I hope you enjoy using the pictures as much as the Spire Photo Team and I enjoyed creating them!

As the creator of this folder, I dedicate this collection of pictures to the entire community, especially to the Class of 2024. Your first year at Holy Cross is one of great discovery and new friendships. May these pictures of campus bring you closer to the campus community during this time of physical distance. Know that you are never alone: we are all coping with this together. You will get through this; better times are ahead!

To everyone: embrace the existing talents you can enhance and the new skills you learn through adapting to this unique time. This semester, I intend to continue my work for the newspaper by creating graphics for our articles. I hope to hone my graphic design skills so I can adapt to whatever lies ahead for us in the future. It is something I am looking forward to, and I’m sure that you’ll grow in your own way through our shared experience this fall.

Please know that in addition to keeping the student body up-to-date with the news from Holy Cross, we also publish opinion pieces from not only our writers, but from other people on our staff and even guest writers in the community! We welcome you into the new semester and hope to serve you well.

Please accept and enjoy our gift to you!


Hui Li

Class of 2021

Chief Photographer (2018-19) and Co-Chief Photographer (2020) of The Spire

Categories: features

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