Editor's Letter

Image vs. Reality

In a pandemic, illustrating our spring issue was no easy task.

Char Braxton

During the pandemic, we avoided group shots of the Odyssey Project in favor of individual portraits. Pictured: Char Braxton. Bryce Richter

In normal times, we would have illustrated our cover story on the UW Odyssey Project with images of the program in action. Our photographer Bryce Richter might have visited an Odyssey class, in which adult learners overcome extreme challenges to achieve their dream of a UW–Madison education.

But these are abnormal times. During the pandemic, the Odyssey Project has moved its classes online. And because UW photographers adhere to public-health guidelines, Bryce couldn’t even gather a group of Odyssey students to pose together outdoors.

Instead, he decided to take individual portraits. His shots make a virtue of necessity, offering an up-close look at the members of Odyssey’s extraordinary community. You can meet them, one-on-one, in the story.

Illustrating “The Concerts You Never Forget” proved a different sort of challenge. In most cases, there were no obvious sources for photographs of legendary campus-area shows stretching back to the 1960s. Digging up images of Jimi Hendrix at the Factory or R.E.M. at Merlyn’s required detective work and crowdsourcing — and the effort paid off, as you’ll see in the story. We located not only rare shots of musicians onstage, but also tickets, posters, newspaper ads, and other artifacts that evoke these magical nights.

What better way to while away abnormal times than by scrolling through lovely images?

Published in the Spring 2021 issue


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