So, sure, this special edition of
is all about the 125th anniversary of Puget
Sound’s founding, but the college is celebrating a number of other milestones
in 2013: the 40th anniversary of
for example (see page 27), and 40 years
of Logger women’s sports (page 23). And how about this one, which took us by
surprise in the way that stopping and noting elapsed time so often seems to do—
University Photographer Ross Mulhausen has been on the job at Puget Sound for
25 years.
I’ve worked with Ross about half of those years. Let me tell you a few things I’ve
learned about the man.
First of all, he’s got stamina. Well,
of course he’s got stamina,
you say; he’s been
clicking shutter buttons around here
for 25 years
. But I’m not talking about the
kind of stamina. Although Ross certainly exhibits it, what with the some-
times numbingly repetitive assignments and crazy hours we ask of him. I’m talking
about an artistic kind of stamina. The kind of stamina that requires
a lot
of it—before doing a job. The kind of stamina that can never accept “good enough.”
For which we are immensely grateful.
Second, he’s cheap. In a good and inventive way, I mean. Here’s a guy who’s been
driving the same brown Toyota pickup truck for about half a millennium, and every
time it breaks down he refuses to cross the threshold of an auto parts store to actu-
ally buy anything new and instead heads to a junkyard to find the required manifold
or spring or whatever. Once, when we had the idea to print some 3-D photos in
Ross could easily have rented a special 3-D camera. But, after reading up on
the hardware required, he figured out he could make his own 3-D rig using gear
he had on hand. Which he did (that’s him and his 3-D solution in the photo), and
it worked brilliantly. Or then there’s the gizmo he built to take passport photos for
students who are going abroad to study—saves them a ton of money.
Third, it would be a horrible pun for us to say Ross has a photographic memo-
ry—so we won’t say it. He
have a mind like a hard drive, though … um, well,
maybe not as modern as a hard drive; more like a big reel of magnetic tape zipping
back and forth on a vacuum-tube computer. But he does remember pretty much
every photo he’s ever taken, when it was taken (with the help of a spreadsheet he
made), and where it is stored, which has gotten wildly difficult since some of his
photos are archived as negative strips in three-ring binders, some are filed as prints,
some are digitized on CDs, and some are in a new online system. Still, whenever we
go to Ross and say, hey, do you remember that picture of so-and-so? he always says,
yes, and more often than not can produce it before the day is out.
Those three things certainly are qualities we admire. What he’s really good at,
though, what makes him the best college staff photographer in the business, any-
where, and he’s got the awards to prove it, is his rapport with people and his un-
canny ability to get out there and
Ross excels at portraiture because he’s great at getting people to forget he’s
sticking a camera in front of their face. To assist in this skill he has at his disposal a
compendium of very bad jokes, and when he begins to recite them in his old-New-
Orleans-boy way, the stiffest of lips bend upward, even those belonging to this cur-
mudgeon of an editor, which is saying something.
As to seeing, well, most of the
photos over the years that have made you
smile happened because Ross was walking across the campus, and he is observant
and especially curious and he asks a lot of questions and he happened to have his
camera with him.
What follows are 25 photos: Ross’ picks of some favorites from 25 years at Puget
Sound, with a little commentary by him on each. Apologies in advance for the bad
jokes. —
Chuck Luce
25 years with our man Ross
Cathy Tollefson ’83