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Blugold puts campus, photo skills in focus on national stage

| Erin Finneman

Artistic, innovative and athletic are just a few words that describe Matt Schrupp. The junior information systems major from Winona, Minnesota, has many talents, including photography. Not only does Matt love taking photos, he loves experimenting and sharing his work. That combination helped bring Matt’s talents — and UW-Eau Claire — into focus this month on the national stage when he won a national photo contest for the USA Today College Guide magazine.

“Back in April, a friend of mine suggested that I enter this contest,” Matt said. “The USA Today College Guide accepts pictures of campuses across the country, and I had taken some of UW-Eau Claire. I decided to take his advice and I entered, not really expecting too much.”

Although it may have seemed like a long shot to Matt, his friend saw the potential in his pictures. After all, when your subject is arguably the most beautiful campus around, you are off to a good start.

 “In June I had gotten an email from USA Today asking for more information, so I assumed that I was advancing in some sort of way,” Matt said. “After a couple months, I wasn’t sure of my status anymore, but then in mid-August I got the email telling me that I had won. It was beyond exciting!”

The winner of the contest often has his or her work featured on the cover of the magazine. However, Matt was told by the magazine editors that they were concerned the format of the cover would alter his photograph, so they opted to include both of the photographs he submitted for the contest.

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This award was incredibly exciting for Matt and for everyone at UW-Eau Claire. The beauty of our campus was showcased in a big way, and being recognized in a national publication is a huge honor.

Since high school, Matt has fallen in love with capturing life’s moments. He started taking pictures with his phone, but soon his camera phone just wasn’t enough.

“After I realized that I really loved taking pictures I started to use my mom’s camera to take even better ones,” Matt said. “Then I went on a road trip to Wyoming with some of my friends and everything just took off even more.”

On that road trip Matt’s knack for taking pictures really showed and he was finally inspired to purchase his first camera. The rest is history now, as the last several years have been filled with more pictures and more memories.

Although Matt is obviously a talented photographer, it was his love of running that helped him win the photo competition. One of Matt’s teammates from the UW-Eau Claire cross country team encouraged Matt to enter the USA Today College Guide contest.

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“The cross country team at UW-Eau Claire doesn’t always get the chance to be photographed at meets,” Matt said. “I wanted to capture those moments, so I started taking pictures of the team. Now I use the pictures I take to send to alumni and I can really tell that my coach appreciates it.”

Matt’s love for running is something he has carried much longer than his love for photography. He was an energetic kid who needed some form of release, so his parents, who are avid runners, thought that running would be a good outlet for him. He ran his first 5K at the age of 6 and has never turned away from the sport. Now, in college, Matt is very excited that he can mix his interests.

“If it weren’t for my teammate, I’m not sure that I would have even been aware of this contest,” Matt said. “I love that I have been given the opportunity to mix both of my hobbies and make something of it. Both aspects of my life are so important to me, it’s awesome to be able to show people those things all at the same time.”

The award is another stepping stone for Matt’s photography career. He doesn’t see his interest fading anytime soon, as his pictures can now be seen in many places, such as the Eau Claire magazine.

“When I first started taking pictures, I didn’t really think it would lead anywhere,” Matt said. “But now it has become such an important part of my life that I really can’t give it up. I’m not entirely sure where I want to go in my future career, but one thing that has crossed my mind is starting my own business and trying to discover a way to mix my studies of information systems with photography.”

There's no telling where Matt’s passion and talent will take him once he leaves UW-Eau Claire, but while he is still here, he will continue capturing wonderful memories and moments with his camera. To see more of Matt’s photos, check out his Instagram: schruppie222.