You may have seen him traveling across campus with a camera bag on his shoulder and a determined look on his face. You have probably seen his craftsmanship on Harding’s Instagram account or plastered on banners throughout campus. As the director of photography for the office of public relations, alumnus Jeff Montgomery is responsible for capturing the visual history of Harding University.
Montgomery began photography as a hobby in junior high school, but the interest turned into nearly a quarter-of-a-century-long career.
“I got a camera for my birthday when I was in the sixth grade, when I was 11 or 12,” Montgomery said. “I didn’t know I needed a camera; I just thought it was fun.”
Originally interested in ministry, Montgomery initially registered as a Bible major when he entered Harding. After falling in love with his first psychology class and realizing learning Greek was not for him, Montgomery changed his major to psychology. Although he did not major in communications, he still enjoyed photography, and found himself working for the office of public relations and the Petit Jean yearbook as a student photographer from 1988-1991.
“I couldn’t believe they would actually give me film and pay me money to take pictures,” Montgomery said.
After graduating in July 1991, Montgomery made the choice to accept the position as public relations photographer instead of pursuing a career in psychology at a graduate school in Tennessee.
“I had to decide if I wanted to be a photographer or a psychologist, and at that point I decided I wanted to be a photographer,” Montgomery said.
Montgomery, who will receive a 25-year service pin in a few years, said he does not regret the choice he made, and that he actually uses his psychology degree every day.
“Psychology is a wonderful degree for photographers,” Montgomery said. “It helps you to read people and situations, to communicate and pay attention to nonverbal cues.”
According to Montgomery, he loves being a “jack of all trades” when it comes to photography. He said that he loves working as a campus photographer because it gives him a large variety of work.
Montgomery captures everything happening on campus from home sporting events to performances and everything in between. His photos are used for various campus publications, admissions materials and sports information.
“It’s the general nature of the work that I love,” Montgomery said. “I get to do lots of cool things.”
With the campus as his office, Montgomery encounters opportunities to capture a part of the campus story each day. His role in telling Harding’s history is a task Montgomery does not take lightly.
“I tell my students sometimes, when you go out on a job you’re the eyes of everybody that’s not there,” Montgomery said. “Anything anybody ever knows about what happens here, if they weren’t here, is what I show them. It’s a serious business, and I don’t take it lightheartedly.”