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Senior Nathan Montgomery Brings Rose-Hulman Performing Arts into Focus

Monday, April 27, 2015
Nathan Montgomery

Student With Many Interests: Senior mechanical engineering student Nathan Montgomery has used his expanding photography skills to capture performing arts events on campus and throughout the Wabash Valley. (Photo by Shawn Spence)

In the darkened Hatfield Hall Theater, a slight figure moved quickly around the stage as Rose-Hulman students prepared for the opening night of this spring musical, Les Miserables. He was careful to not interrupt the action, while taking advantage of the dramatic stage lighting to photograph the essence of the dramatic scene.

The photographer is a student as well. Senior Nathan Montgomery has combined his love of photography and theater into a specialized skill: theater photography.

"Right before my freshman year of college, I decided I wanted to get into photography," mechanical engineering major recalls. He took a portion of his high-school graduation money and purchased a digital single-lens reflex camera.

"I didn't know what shutter speed or aperture was, so I started from scratch," he says, looking back at the early days of his hobby. "Photography was one of the first hobbies I took up that actually stuck."

At Rose-Hulman, Montgomery became a member of the Hatfield Hall Theater's technical crew. Intrigued by the challenge of taking photographs in the often harsh or low light of the theater, he started taking photographs as the drama club prepared for the musical Chicago during the spring of 2013.

Those images were so outstanding that they were used to promote the show and featured in the Terre Haute Tribune-Star's entertainment section. Soon, the Columbia Station, Ohio native was being asked to take pictures for events associated with the institute's performing arts series in the theater, and has become a fixture at other campus events. Several of his images have been popular features on Rose-Hulman's Facebook page.

Meanwhile, Montgomery is striving toward improving his photography skills. He learned the art of film photography and development while taking a campus photography course, taught by Coordinator of Arts Programs and Art Curator Steve Letsinger.

"I'd never worked in a dark room or used a film camera. It was very challenging. It made me appreciate what photographers had to go through before the development of digital technology," Montgomery says. "I also learned that composition is really important, especially with film, because you can't go back and edit."

Click the image above to view a slideshow of some of Nathan's work.

Through his photography work at Hatfield Hall, Montgomery made connections that afforded him the opportunity to pick up freelance assignments for Terre Haute Living magazine. He has volunteered his services throughout the Terre Haute area, combining his love of history and photography for the Vigo County Historical Society's USO Tribute Celebration fundraising event. The event included an original musical production and a 1940s-style hangar dance at the Terre Haute International Airport. Montgomery blended into the themed event by wearing period attire.

"I have an interest in history, especially history of the 1920s through 1940s. It was nice that I got to dress as a soldier from World War II at the USO event," he remarks.

This summer, Montgomery will put his engineering skills to good use as he uses cutting edge technology to work on projects during an internship at Rose-Hulman Ventures. He hopes to add hands-on design and prototyping experience that will prepare him for a future in the automotive industry.

No matter where his career leads him, Montgomery wants to continue using his photography skills to highlight theatrical productions.

"Theatre photography is my love. Wherever I end up, I'd like to volunteer to do photography at a local theater," he says.