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Heartland grad brings artist's eye to photojournalism

March 15, 2018

The young woman is standing hip deep in water, her hair tied back with a multicolored band. It’s a clear day; the sky is a gradient fading from deep cobalt to an almost translucent powder blue. The water is dotted with moss-green growth but otherwise is a glassy reflecting pool.

The woman looks down toward something she is holding carefully in her right hand. 

It’s a turtle.

“This photo is of Amanda Carter. She’s out at Bear Marsh State Park doing turtle research,” says Lyndsie Schlink.

Lyndsie composed the photo, which is currently displayed at Joe McCauley Gallery on the Heartland campus. Getting the perfect shot took a little extra effort.

“I was actually laying on the edge of the muddy marsh on a pair of waders just at the water level to get the reflection of her in the water,” Lyndsie explains.

The photo with Amanda Carter and her turtle is one of fifteen photographs displayed in the exhibit View Finder, which can be seen until May 4 at the gallery. 

The photos, printed on a “larger than publication” scale vary from non-traditional portraits to landscapes and also an aerial shot of the Illinois State University campus.

You would not know it from first glance, but all of the images found in View Finder were taken on the job during Lyndsie’s ten years as a University Photographer at Illinois State.

When the photos were taken, the intent was to use the pictures for marketing purposes: publications, department websites, flyers, even billboards. But with each assignment, the photographer’s eye was seeking a new perspective.

“Having done a lot of the events ten or twenty times now, I’m always trying to push myself creatively to see things differently. I’m always trying to keep things fresh and interesting,” Lyndsie says. “So it’s a mix of trying to push other people to see things differently as well as myself.”

Art Gallery Coordinator Danell Dvorak curated View Finder for exhibit. In reviewing Lyndsie’s work she found a new way of looking at the pieces she wanted to bring to Joe McCauley Gallery.

“I was looking primarily at a photograph as a photograph,” Danell says. “Lyndsie’s been so closely tied to the people she works with and the assignments. All of her work is outstanding, but certain photographs to me have that same element that you would have in a painting:  principles of design, formal elements that are just striking.  And I feel that’s important to celebrate.”

This isn’t the first time that photography has brought Lyndsie Schlink to Heartland. Her career path was pointed through her view finder eye early on.

“I took my first photo class in high school at Normal Community West. My senior year I took a photography class and a teacher encouraged me to apply to be a Foundation scholar at Heartland,” Lyndsie says.  “I received a Foundation scholarship and renewed that for two full years and received my Associate’s Degree. I took all three photo classes they offered in the darkroom at Heartland.”

Lyndsie took the next step in her education at Illinois State, where she began her photojournalism career with The Vidette student newspaper. After working at The Pantagraph and Herald-Review newspapers, she returned to ISU and began to serve as a full-time campus photographer.

In her decade capturing images of people, places and events at Illinois State she’s been given artistic freedom, but also a fair amount of responsibility.

“I’ve been told that I am the eyes of the University.  So it’s my job to show people what the views are,” Lyndsie says. “With Danell’s help curating the show she really helped to pick out a lot of images that I might not have picked on my own. To me it’s been great to just see these images as works of art instead of marketing tools. It’s a huge shift.”

View Finder presents the work, for the first time, solely as individual, stand-alone photographs. Exhibits, events, and parking at Heartland’s Joe McCauley Gallery are free. Hours are weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on days the College is open.

At the close of the McCauley Gallery exhibit on May 4, View Finder will travel to ISU's Milner Library for display.

Written by: Steve Fast