Triton 5: Erik Jepsen ’10

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A man with a plaid shirt, jeans, and a backpack standing on rocks with hands in his jean pockets looking out to the terrain. There is water behind him and the halo of a city in the background.01. What do you do?
First and foremost, I take photos of all things UC San Diego. Anything you can think of, I shoot it: student life, research initiatives, artwork, groundbreakings, sporting events, portraits and more. I work for all departments and all divisions. I began photographing the campus in 2006 when working for The Guardian student newspaper, but in 2011, I was hired as staff.

02. Why do you do it?
I love visual storytelling and inspiring people through my photographs. I always aim to capture emotion and pass that on to others. Visual stories give people an immediate sense of what’s going on at UC San Diego and why it’s important. For example, my photograph of Muir College graduation speaker Alex Rodriguez ’21 in the Fall 2021 issue of Triton—he’s overcome with emotion in a moment of gratitude and triumph and perseverance. When others see this image, I hope they can see what support means for our students.

03. What have you done?
As a student, I remember feeling the excitement every Monday and Thursday, picking up The Guardian to see my photos in print. I’m also thankful to have worked with inspiring faculty like Albert Lin ’04, MS ’05, PhD ’08, who helped get my photos published in the National Geographic Society. As a staff member, a definite highlight was being the primary photographer for the Dalai Lama’s visit to campus in 2017. That was a life-changing opportunity. Along with that, I’ve had some incredible access on campus and off. I’ve visited research vessels, probably seen the top of every building, and I’ve witnessed some really amazing research as well.

04. What did you learn here?
UC San Diego is more than just earning a degree. True growth as a person is about the perspectives you gain. The Making of the Modern World series at Roosevelt College was very impactful for me. I learned about worlds beyond my personal experience here in the U.S.—so many cultures, religions and viewpoints. The class is a lot of work but very eye-opening. And at the end of the coursework I feel like the students should earn a badge of honor for completing that series, which they kind of do, considering what you take away from it.

05. What have you learned since?
Visual storytelling is an important means of connection with others, especially today, when there’s so much division. A photograph can capture the true essence of a moment, so that no matter what your outlook on life is, you can share emotion and connect with others. A photo can show us and tell us so much. To capture parts of people’s lives and share them with others, I feel very fortunate to be a part of that.