hen you walk by Matt Hanner’s office, you
will usually hear a music track playing from his
computer. More often than not, it’s driven by the
guitar and a bit folksy. Seconds later the track will
change. Another folksy song, but this one is a bit
more up beat.
Then the first track will play again.
You’ll hear a deep sigh from the man sitting at the
keyboard. Then a third track starts to play. Over
the next 10 minutes, this will repeat several times
over. Hanner knows this decision, the selection
of background music for a campus video, will
change the entire direction of the project. Of
course, it’s the third such decision he’s made
today. Matt Hanner is the Creative Services
Coordinator at Darton State College. That
makes the Terrell County native part campus
photographer, part videographer, part director
of photography, part editor in chief, part
photoshop technician, part lighting designer, and
part anything else that can possibly go into the
production of a photo or video on campus.
While he helps drive the creative vision for
many of the campus’ videos and pictures, Matt
doesn’t like to break down his role at Darton into
“Part of the reason that Creative Services was
chosen for my title,” Hanner says from behind
his computer, “is that I don’t like to distinguish
between the photography and videography.
They’re both creative outlets that are used to tell
a story.” Hanner has been a part of the Darton State
College staff for three years. In that time he
has revolutionized the way that stories are told
visually around campus.
Hanner’s tenure at Darton began in the Office
of Campus Life, where he helped take photos and
videos of student events and organization. Soon
his work caught the attention of others around
campus, including the Dean of Institutional
Advancement and Public Relations, Tracy Goode.
“When I saw his videos and some of his
photos, I thought, ‘man, I want to use this guy on
a much larger scale,’” Goode said. “I went to the
Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs
and asked if there was any way for us to get Matt
into our area, because we were already using him
so much. Once that happened, I knew we had
our staff photographer and videographer,” Goode
added. Hanner’s work can be seen all across campus,
the Darton publications, and even Darton’s digital
media outlets like YouTube.
“I have two regional awards sitting in (the
office of Institutional Advancement) that are
a testament to his work,” Goode says. Darton’s
Capstones magazine and Undecidenitis
commercial, which ran during the summer, each
won recognition. “Those awards are due in part to
Matt’s photography and cinematography skills,”
Goode said. “I couldn’t ask for a better person to
have on-set working for Darton State College.”
Matt’s process is thorough, and at times
tedious, but Hanner says he expects nothing but
the best from himself.
“I try and spend a good deal of time
researching photographs and videos,” Hanner
says as he tries to explain how a photo goes from
an idea to a reality.
Trey Cooper, the campus’ Graphic Designer,
says that it’s that extra time spent planning that
makes Hanner’s work standout.
“I’ll walk past a fountain 300 times, but he’ll
walk by and get a shot from this different angle,”
Cooper says. “He turns it into this beautiful,
artistic shot. He takes what is there and provides
a perspective that you never would have
Because a new semester begins every few
months, life on a college campus can start to feel
cyclical. Hanner says that’s one of the reasons that
he is constantly looking for new angles and ways
to tell a visual story about Darton.
“I try not to get in a rut of using the same
photo or video technique over and over,” Hanner
said. “I feel like if you’re not trying something
new, then you’re just holding yourself back.”
- BRIAN PERKINS
Behind the Lens