Colgate University in Photos: 2021

Colgate University Photographer Mark DiOrio opens up his image archive for a look back at 2021.



Weather conditions often change on a moment’s notice — and can make a photograph when you least expect it. I was wrapping up a shoot on a gloomy Friday afternoon, and just as I was leaving work, the clouds to the west finally broke allowing for this red and violet sky. It also worked out well because I hadn’t taken a photo of Willow Path with this particular type of sky in quite some time.


The spring production of Hamlet was held in the Brehmer Theater and photographed by former Colgate University photographer Andy Daddio in March. I always enjoyed this particular image taken by Daddio because of its surreal quality, costume design, dramatic lighting, and the balance of asymmetrical subject matter.


Spring is one of my favorite times of year to photograph the Colgate campus. There is always a short window of time to capture the flowering trees before the blossoms are lost to wind or rain. I have often composed the rooftop of James B. Colgate Hall with fall foliage but not with the blossoming trees. This year I had my opportunity.


When photographing Commencement 2021, this particular image stuck out to me. This graduate was quite celebratory after crossing the stage, and I felt it captured the spirit felt by many that we had made it to commencement despite the odds we faced during the pandemic.


Throughout the 2020–2021 academic year, I kept looking for opportunities to photograph the ways in which Colgate was adapting to the pandemic. This particular image of the graduates socially distanced while waiting for their names to be called is one instance that summed up what we had gone through as a campus and how far we had come during a challenging time. I believe that it also captures a historic moment in the story of Colgate as well. 


Unexpected moments are always a welcome sight for me and something I look to capture when covering our events. I made this image following commencement as I waited for graduates and their families to take photos with the 2021 sign and enjoyed that it was a different scene instead of traditionally posing with the date.


Arrival day always makes for great emotion, and great emotion makes for great moments to photograph. I always enjoy making images as family members say their goodbyes to a new first-year student. For me, as a photographer, it holds the symbolism of a young adult taking a chance and going out into the world for the first time. 


Convocation officially marks the beginning of the academic journey for our incoming class. This year, the convocation ceremony was held in a tent by Willow Path instead of being held in Memorial Chapel. This presented a unique opportunity to photograph the procession of students by Taylor Lake, framed by two of the trees on Willow Path.


The Homecoming 2021 football game between Colgate and Lehigh was particularly noteworthy due to our 30-3 victory. I made many action and fan images during that game but I felt this quiet moment between a player and family member captured the celebration in a different way than the field and stand celebration we typically see.


Photography is often about how composition, human expression, time of day, and lighting come together to capture a mood or create a feeling. I enjoyed this image, made by former Colgate University photographer Andy Daddio, of a bonfire during Family Weekend — specifically the sense of community seen in the image along with the warm glow of the fire and hazy effect of the smoke. 


Sometimes the spirit of an event doesn’t have to be captured in an emotion or reaction but in a detail instead. When photographing homecoming, I was drawn to the gesture of this young fan, the pom-pom along with the number 13 on the hat, and the Colgate spirit it captured. 


As we headed into autumn this year, I had heard from not only the weather forecasts but also members of the community that this season was not going to be good for foliage photos due to too many warm nights in September. I still sought out areas that had particularly promising trees and worked on a different approach to photographing scattered pockets of color, like this tree on the Academic Quad in front of Alumni Hall.


At the beginning of the spring 2021 semester, Colgate students were required to quarantine upon returning to campus. The quarantine presented me the opportunity to photograph students participating in many outdoor activities at that time, including this image of students sledding down the hill between College Street and James B. Colgate Hall one sunny afternoon.