Award-winning MATC Times photographer promoted


Photo by Trevor Keay/MATC Times

Photography program student Celine Cotton is finishing up her first year at the college as the Times Photo Editor. Cotton was unanimously voted in by the Times Editorial Board to succeed graduating Photo Editor Andi Clunie.

Note: Originally printed in October 8, 2021 issue of the MATC Times (printed edition).

Times Editor-in-Chief, Victoria Magee, appointed Celine Cotton as the newspaper’s Photo Editor.

Cotton, a second-year photography student, joined the newspaper during the 2019 Fall semester.  “I originally joined the Times during the new student orientation,” she said. “Victoria had mentioned that they were looking for photographers, and in my mind, I just thought “that’s me!”. Because of being homeschooled, I knew that when I went to college I wanted to fully immerse myself. I had looked to see what clubs and things were offered to see if I could get to know people, but there was nothing that had to do with photography or any of my interests. So, the Times seemed like a great idea.” She added.

During the school year Cotton contributed to a multitude of photo journalism assignments including the Perspectives column, portraits, and sports.  One of these assignments, “Fiserv Forum tour takes visitors behind the scenes”, earned her a top honor in the State.  Cotton won Feature Photography Honorable Mention in the Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation Better Newspaper Contest. A high honor considering she was in competition with students from four-year schools including Marquette University and University of Wisconsin.

“I guess I would say that it was unexpected.” Said Cotton. Adding she recalls being told her photographs were being submitted for a contest but didn’t think she would get very far.

“I knew that by the time some people get to college they’ve had practice at what they’re studying, Cotton added. “I only purchased my first camera a couple months before school started, so when I was told I won an award for my imagery I was really surprised. And with being surprised I was really excited that some else saw my imagery and enjoyed it completely. It was a little bit of a confidence booster,” said Cotton.

The photography student is feeling positive about her new position and expects this year will have, a good outcome.  Cotton also acknowledges the unique challenges due to the pandemic but sees it as an opportunity to grow.

“Last semester was stressful,” said Cotton.  “I know that college is hard enough when you’re a full-time student, who goes to work part/full time, and you are also in a school organization of any sort. However, add a pandemic into the mix and it makes things a lot more complicated. The one advantage here that I think I have is because I was homeschooled from elementary through high school, I am used to an online format for school, and I’m used to having a certain level of self-teaching (I 100% prefer in person classes)’, she said.

“With the Times, I’m trying to get in the groove of all the responsibilities of the Photo Editor. I think I should be able to get it down, I just have to get used to it,” she said.

Cotton came to the school with a unique background.  She was home schooled from K-12 and originally wanted to pursue a degree in dance at UW-Whitewater. She was also an instructor of ‘Dance/Choreography’ at the Wauwatosa Recreational Department. Cotton is trained in ballet, tap-dance, hip hop, and jazz.

Cotton says one of the biggest pros of being homeschooled was her schedule. Stating that she had the opportunity to create her own schedule.

“Creating my own schedule allowed me to do things that people my age (20) wouldn’t typically be able to do since they would be in class (like teach dance classes in the afternoons),” she said. Cotton says another positive was being able to learn at her own pace.

“If I needed extra time on a subject or concept I could have it, or if I understood that subject or concept quickly I could then move on to whatever was next. Some days I would finish school as early as 10am, while other days I wouldn’t finish school until 6pm. I preferred the 10am,” she explained.

Cotton says the biggest con of being homeschooled was socialization.  “For some people, this aspect isn’t terrible, but I’m a very social person, “she said.

Upon graduating, she plans to become a professional photographer. She hopes to travel the world and photograph her adventures, while getting paid to do it.