Jerry Turba ’74 at his post at this year's Commencement.
Turba captures memories at his final Commencement
Next year when Jerry Turba ’74 attends graduation, he won’t be looking through a camera lens. Commencement 2011 marked his final appearance as the professional photographer capturing the moment graduates receive their diplomas. His business, Turba Photography, was sold to another St. Norbert alum in January.
Turba has been documenting Commencement for the college since 1984.
When he began 28 years ago, Turba used rolls of 400-speed, medium-format film. Unfortunately, he could only take 10 photos per roll. With roughly 300 graduates per ceremony and four seconds to capture each one, he needed two students working alongside him to get the job done.
Turba recalls, “I had three camera bodies there, and they would keep loading camera bodies and I would keep shooting. And they would have to unload and reload it and label the roll, because with film you had to keep your roll numbers all in sequence.
“(The students) would follow the Commencement book and mark off if the person was there or wasn’t there. It was scary the first years.”
Since then, the process has gotten easier. Exposures per roll went up to 20 and then 30. In recent years, Turba has used a digital camera. All 400-plus graduate photos are stored on a single memory card, and names and faces are verified with video footage.
It’s estimated that more than 10,000 alumni have a Turba graduation photo. That number includes Turba’s daughter, Jessie (Turba) Beauchamp ’04, who received her diploma from her mother, Judy (Sprangers) Turba ’76, then director of alumni and parent relations.
Commencement 2012 will be photographed by Mimi Schroeder ’87, now owner of Turba-Schroeder Photography.
“We’re going to keep it the way Jerry’s always done it because that’s what the school really wants and likes and expects,” says Schroeder. “I think there’s a lot of value in consistency and in keeping that tradition up.”
Schroeder will have guidance in that tradition at the first Commencement she shoots – from Turba himself. “He’ll be there just to make sure everything is kind of as he would want it to be. That’s fabulous. He cares. He cares a great deal.”
Turba has covered many other events for the college over the years. We asked him to provide us with a small selection of his own particular favorites.