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University students launch new photography publication

The Optic aims to foster creativity, community among campus artists

<p>The magazine is meant to serve as the University’s only current photography magazine dedicated to photography.</p>

The magazine is meant to serve as the University’s only current photography magazine dedicated to photography.

A group of student photographers and creators announced the launch of The Optic — a new campus publication — in an Instagram post Feb. 3. It was founded to serve as the University’s only magazine dedicated to photography.

Founders Mason Lane Rudnick ’25 and Natasha Joukowsky ’22 said they decided to start the magazine after realizing there was a void in on-campus opportunities for student photographers. 

“Coming (to Brown) this fall, I was shocked to not find something like this because I immediately found so many talented people, whether they were photographers or just artists in general,” Rudnick said. “It felt like something was definitely missing.”

Rudnick met Joukowsky at a Russian court-themed party, where she noticed Joukowsky taking photos of attendees and wanted to meet her. “It was definitely inspiring to see someone just capturing everything going on,” Rudnick said.

Joukowsky began using film photography just over a year ago, she said. “A friend of mine gave me a camera as a Christmas gift and was like, ‘You should take some photos,’ … so I just took it upon myself to be all my friends’ personal photographer, and it was just so much fun.”

Rudnick had a similar foray into the world of photography. After taking a few photography classes in high school, she began experimenting with the medium by coming up with shoot concepts using her friends as models.

When Rudnick realized she wanted to start her own publication, she knew she wanted to approach like-minded Joukowsky for help.

As a senior, “she understands the dynamics of Brown (while) I’m coming in as a first year,” Rudnick said. 

After a few meetings, the two built a team of interested student creatives and launched a website with an initial selection of photographs. Among the works currently available on their website are photographs by Rudnick and Joukowsky, including those Joukowsky took at the Russian court party.

Also included are photographs by Annabel Zimmer ’24, whose series “Savior” was published as The Optic’s first official feature. 

Zimmer joined The Optic after being approached by Rudnick and Joukowsky.

“When they told me about it, I was ecstatic,” Zimmer wrote in an email to The Herald. “Sometimes it feels easy to get lost in (Brown). The role of The Optic should be to provide a spotlight for artists and, in turn, connect like-minded individuals.”

Now, Rudnick, Joukowsky and the rest of the team are working with the Undergraduate Council of Students to become an official club, and they have released an interest form for students looking to submit photographs or join the publication’s staff. 

The founders also noted that they hope to take The Optic’s platform beyond its website by hosting events and photo exhibitions later in the semester, and they would like to provide opportunities for student photographers to sell prints and network with industry professionals.

“What’s awesome about what we’re starting now is that it’s not limiting,” Joukowsky said. “We’re trying to attract the best of the best … because we know they’re here and we want people with visions and creativity. Just having (their) point of view is extremely important to us.”

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