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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Friday, April 12, 2024
The Echo

Jim Garringer: The man behind the lens

Director of media relations retires

Commencement, precedents, colorations, sporting events and chapels — all photographed by one man. Jim Garringer has spent the past 37 years documenting every event and change on Taylor's campus. 

Though he began his time at Taylor as a photographer, Garringer is retiring as director of media relations this year. Garringer is responsible for many of the often-seen photos of students and events at Taylor that appear in the alumni magazine, the Taylor website and around campus. 

"I never thought I would wind up here as long as I was, but at the same time, I always sensed that God had led me here and would keep me here to serve his purpose," Garringer said. 

Graduating from Ball State University with a bachelor's degree in journalism and an emphasis in photojournalism, Garringer had a great interest in coming to work at Taylor while still in college. Garringer became aware of Taylor through his wife, an alumna whose family had attended Taylor as well. After finishing college, Garringer soon inquired about a job at the university, which led him to be hired as a photographer in 1986. 

This position would mark the beginning of a life-long career and would open the door to increasing responsibilities. 

"I continued to work as the photographer as a major part of what I did," Garringer said. "I also began sending press releases and being the spokesperson for Taylor where the need arose."

Along with shooting photography and writing press releases, Garringer took on a role as editor of the Taylor Alumni magazine in 2006. In addition to his position as editor, he contributed photos and acted as a primary writer for the magazine. 

In recent years, he has taken responsibility for managing Taylor's social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. This duty required writing, taking photos for posts and responding to messages and Tweets. However, the management of these social media accounts has since been delegated. 

Garringer can be seen with his camera at most activities around Taylor's campus, including chapel services, sporting events and other student happenings. Many photos feature students participating in daily activities, whether that is worshiping in a chapel or simply walking through campus. Each image captures the crucial moments of Taylor's history and the history of its students. 

Through Garringer's involvement with media and photography, he has witnessed a host of significant events on Taylor's campus, both joyous and heartbreaking. His position as spokesperson allows him not only to write and photograph what's happening but also to inform the community. 

"I served as Taylor's spokesperson through the whole van accident in 2006, which killed four Taylor students and one member of the dining staff," Garringer said. "That was an incredibly sad and difficult time, but it was also a time that I saw God working in miraculous ways." 

Garringer has seen a close-up of the changes to the university, both in its students and faculty. Through photos, Garringer has been able to share with future generations. 

This work of photographing Taylor life is not simply clicking a button and taking a picture. 

When taking photos on campus, his goal is not simply to document Taylor's life but to bring a fresh look.

"With photography, the biggest thing is to show something that you're familiar with, but in a way, you haven't ever seen it before," said Garringer. 

These familiar images come from moments of opportunity around Taylor and Upland, moments Garringer is quick to document. Each photo shows not only a captured moment but a story. 

Though Garringer has contributed much during his time at Taylor, he said that his experience at Taylor has affected him tremendously. 

"I've been incredibly blessed; I've gotten more from Taylor than I ever gave," Garringer said. "I will always consider Taylor ‘us’ instead of ‘they,’ and it has been a wonderful experience with wonderful people to serve with; I am grateful."  

Retiring May 31, 2023, Garringer has no set plans for life in this next season. He hopes to continue being involved around campus and offer help wherever possible. Like many who live in the local community, Garringer plans to continue the occasional walk with his wife around campus, staying connected to its students. 

"Jay Kesler (former Taylor president) used to say that when he retired, he wanted students one day to say, 'Who is that nice old man?,’" Garringer said. "And I think I have a similar feeling; I want students, when they see me around campus, to say, 'Who is that nice old man?’"