This semester I’ve been in a photojournalism class- ask anyone who’s been around me throughout it, and they’ll tell you how much I dreaded it. Until today.

I enrolled in the class with the hope to learn more about the mechanics of photography, which I did. That part of the class I loved. The parts I hated were basically everything else. This was not a photography class, it was a photojournalism class, and believe me, they are two very different things. We had very specific criteria for each assignment; trying to take pictures that met these criteria in daylight hours (because flash photography is not allowed) was almost impossible on top of my other classes and obligations. The class discussions went off on tangents that really never had anything to do with what we were supposed to be learning. And on top of all of this, it was a two-hour class where I had to sit in a semi-dark photo cave room pretending to pay attention. Overall, the experience was pretty dreadful.

We wrapped up the class today by talking about the same thing we discussed on the first day- the goals of photojournalism. Our professor told us on the first day these goals were:

Control your background. Fill your frame. Capture moments. Care.

On the first day of class, all of these made sense because we related them to photography. Control your background- make sure it isn’t too busy so that your subject stands out. Fill your frame- don’t have anything unnecessary in your photos, crop out what isn’t important to the story. Capture moments- wait for the right moment and take a picture of it then, don’t take pictures of things that don’t matter. Care- make sure the photos you’re taking benefit the community in some way by letting the public know what is going on. Take the time to build a relationship with your subjects and show them you care.

But today we put a different spin on these goals.

Control your background- don’t do anything you’re going to regret later in life. Keep your record clean, you never know where you’re going to end up and what someone might be able to find out about you.

Fill your frame- kind of contradictory to controlling your frame, but take advantage of every opportunity that is given to you. Make your Monday mornings be just exciting as your Friday afternoons. Don’t turn down something because it might be risky. Take the risk. Fill your life up with things that matter, the other stuff isn’t important.

Capture moments- don’t spend your life on things that don’t make you happy. Think about what you’re doing before you do it, and find moments that matter. Why waste your life away on moments that aren’t important?

Care- make sure your life has meaning. Take the time to care about the people around you, because that is the only way the world is going to get better.

And with that, as much as I disliked my photojournalism class, I liked it ten times more. As the last official day of classes this semester comes to a close, and my life after college is starting to begin, this advice is something I’ll take with me forever. By controlling my background, I’ll be able to fill my frame with moments that matter and moments that show others how much I care. If there is one thing I’ve learned during these four years it’s that having a fear of failure is not an option. You can’t spend your life wondering “what if?”, and you can’t control what other people think about you, so do what makes you happy.

College is all about learning who you are and what you want to do with your life. Some people find it and some people don’t, but none of that really matters – what matters is that you learn something that puts you one step closer to finding it one day. While the entire semester in photojournalism might have seemed like a waste, it was definitely worth sticking it out until today.

We ended class with the ### symbol, which is a traditional symbol at the end of a copyedit that simply means “it is finished”. Even though my time at the University of Georgia is coming to an end, I’m not ready to write my three pound signs. There is so much left I have to do, and I plan on spending the rest of my life filling my frame with moments that matter. The pound signs will have their glory, but not until I’m done having mine.