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Capturing a career

Posted 2:06 p.m. Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Greg Anderson, ’83, will be retiring later this year from his position as Wisconsin's legislative photographer. (Photo from Anderson: Governor Evers' first inauguration on January 7, 2019)

Alumnus Greg Anderson, ’83, on his career in photography

Behind the lens of Wisconsin's political stage stands UWL alumnus Greg Anderson. 

Anderson’s photography portfolio spans over 40 years, which began after graduating from UW-La Crosse in 1983 with a degree in mass communications. After capturing countless subjects, primarily in his role as a staff photographer for the Wisconsin Legislature, he is set to retire later this year. 

Anderson graduated from UWL with a degree in mass communications. He thanks professors Ed Bardill and Roger Grant for their mentorship.

Before landing his current position with the Legislature, Anderson started as a photographer for the Photographic Media Center at UW-Madison, capturing scenes ranging from varsity sports to open-heart surgery. 

“The transition from student to professional was pretty easy, as my education at UWL prepared me sufficiently for the position,” Anderson says. “I was fairly confident in my abilities thanks to professors Ed Bardill and Roger Grant.” 

Anderson appreciated the range of assignments, including the different formats of photography: large and medium formats, plus 35-millimeter film. His time working at UW-Madison gave him the confidence to take any assignment that came along, which came in handy as he started freelance work in the ’90s. 

The Department of Natural Resources, the National Parks Service, the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the New Yorker Magazine, Trek Bicycles and The Smithsonian Institute are among the clients Anderson has collaborated with. 

“For each of my diverse clients, I felt confident I was able to accommodate their requests due to my experiences at the Photographic Media Center,” Anderson says. “Each relationship I’ve established as clients resulted from who I knew, word of mouth or being in the right place at the right time.”

One of Anderson's favorite photos: the most recent Senate Democrat caucus.

Once Anderson transitioned to his role as a legislative photographer, his list of notable photograph subjects grew even larger. However, the most fulfilling aspect of his career remains with creating memories for families. 

“The aspects of my career that provided me with the most fulfillment was producing portraiture, both individuals and families,” Anderson explains. “They’re important to the subjects of the photographs, but more importantly, the grandchildren and great grandchildren of the subject of the portraits."

Another of Anderson's favorite photos: Melvin Gordon on his record setting 408 yard game against Nebraska.

Reflecting on his career, Anderson expresses his satisfaction with the education he received at UWL. 

“I am glad I chose a liberal arts program,” Anderson says. “Having access to courses outside of your discipline made for a well-rounded experience.” 

Although the photography industry has changed drastically since Anderson’s education, he is thankful that the digital shift has made photography available to more people, and that the public has become more “visually literate.”

Anderson's final favorite photo: Governor Evers and the Lieutenant Governor at the time, Mandela Barnes, raised the Pride Flag over the capitol for the first time.

As for advice to those wishing to cultivate a career like Anderson’s, he says, “Worry more about composition and less about equipment. You should photograph what is important to you.” 

While Anderson is retiring from his position as Wisconsin’s legislative photographer, the moments and memories he captured over his four-decade career will be enjoyed for generations to come. 


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