FBI photographer frames discussion for students

By Loribeth Reynolds

Conner
Conner

Steven Conner, Portland, Oregon, has had a long lasting successful career, and it all started at Hutchinson Community College.

Conner began college in1968, and finished in 1975. Shortly after his first year at HCC, he was called to serve in the Navy for four years. When he returned he was interested in finishing his education. When he re-enrolled in 1974, he joined Dragon’s Tale and the campus newspaper, The Collegian.

“On the first floor of Lockman in the business offices, above a bookshelf, is a framed photo of five photographers on a jungle gym. That was us,” Conner said. “We took about 75 percent of the yearbook and Collegian photos that year.”

Conner learned about photography at HCC. He visited campus April 15 and talked to the current Collegian newspaper staff.

He shared techniques on how to get that perfect shot. For example, he recalls lying on his back next to a pole vaulter, during a track meet, to get a different perspective. His experience taking photos at the college served him well.

Conner is now a field photographer and “evidence response team leader” for the FBI in Portland. With only 52 jobs like his in the world, he recognized he had to work hard to be where he is.

Some of his FBI work has been in “stakeout” situations, where his job was to stay out of sight, in a parked car, and take long-range photos of gang members wanted as murder suspects.

He has worked many investigative cases, using state-of-the-art photography techniques to find evidence like fingerprints, DNA, footprints — and the truth.

“I would say my favorite part of the job is finding the truth,” Conner said. “Finding out what really happened at the scene. That’s what investigative work is all about.”

Conner was hired at the FBI because of his previous experience taking photos.

After college, he became a commercial photographer. This gave him a wide range of experience. For example, he did photography work 7,000 feet underground, to document a mining process.

He also used ultrasensitive Kodachrome slide film to document surgical procedures for training surgeons. He never passed on an opportunity to learn and he urges students to do the same.

“Figure out what it is you want to do,” Conner said.

“Find a mentor, and talk with them often, and never forget to practice, practice, practice.”

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