You’ve seen the picture; I’ve seen the picture. It’s on every piece of advertisement handed out to perspective Ouachitonians; it encapsulates all that is Ouachita in one picture. It’s an aerial shot of the Ouachita residential campus, and the picture was taken by none other than Dr. Wesley Kluck, vice president for student affairs and campus physician. Dr. Kluck is among Ouachita’s most visible and involved staff members. He can be seen at any sporting event, in his clinic or in his office in Student Services. Over his time on Ouachita’s campus, his photos have become a staple of Facebook, Twitter and any other social media Ouachitonians use. Kluck’s photography skills are the culmination of a lifetime interest in the art of photography.
“My mom used to say that when I was a little kid I had a little Kodak throwaway camera, one where you could take pictures,” Kluck said. “Then I got a box camera that you held and looked down to see the image you were going to capture.”
This charming beginning would start a lifetime of work that would lead to some amazing photography.
“I guess I got interested even more as a student at Ouachita, but I didn’t take the class or anything,” Kluck said.
When Kluck got into medical school, which already required much reading, Kluck really delved into the art of taking the perfect picture.
“In the late seventies, I was in med school, and I started reading books on photography. I would take what I learned and go out and practice. Except, I could only practice two or three times, instead of 200 or 300 like you would be able to today,” Kluck said.
Kluck got married in 1980 and took an important step in his photography career. That was when he got his first professional camera.
“It was a Canon A1, and at the time it was professional quality,” Kluck said.
As Kluck’s interest was growing, technology was advancing, and it made the process of photography smoother.
“All these little one hour photo development places were popping up, and I could go there and get pictures developed,” he said.
Once Dr. Kluck returned to Ouachita, he was able to use prior connections to continue his love of photography.
“In 1986 or 1987, I became team doctor, so I was always at football and basketball games,” he said.
While a student here, Kluck was a football manager and trainer, so he knew well the ins and outs of the game, and where and when would provide the best photo opportunities. Kluck recalls when he first started distributing pictures to Ouachita’s students.
“In 1999 or 2000, the first relatively good digital camera came out, with a whopping megapixel [an iPhone 7 has a 12.3 megapixel camera, for reference],” Kluck said.
Kluck would go home and print off the picture on his printer and give them to the athletes in his photos, to much acclaim. He continued to hone his craft and buy more advanced cameras.
“I bought a professional camera,” Kluck said, “and then this thing called Facebook was created. It was great because I could share the pictures directly with students, and parents would just love them too.”
In 2009, Kluck decided to bring his love of photography to the classroom and began teaching one of the most popular courses Ouachita has to offer.
Dr. Kluck’s favorite sport to shoot is football.
“There’s more interaction and more players,” he said.
Each sport brings its own challenges.
“Volleyball is really hard, because you have to guess where the ball is going, and soccer is tough because the ball is so far away and moving so fast,” he said.
In 2008, Ouachita men’s basketball faced the University of Kentucky Wildcats in Kentucky in a scrimmage. Dr. Kluck tagged along as the team doctor and could not resist bringing his camera.
“That was kinda neat to have the guys playing in a big arena and all the angles it allows,” Kluck said.
The annual Battle of the Ravine also provides for many photo ops, including Kluck’s personal favorite photo. Seen in person, it’s simply a picture of the last Battle of the Ravine at the old football stadium. Kluck and head football coach Knight got onboard a small plane, and Kluck snapped a shot of the game and the cars stretching down the road adjacent to the stadium. When you see it, you almost become dizzy from the angle and scale of the picture.
Dr. Wesley Kluck holds many roles at Ouachita. He is the campus physician, vice president for student affairs, unofficial official photographer, friend to many and provider of chocolates to all.
“I probably take around 100,000 photos a year,” Kluck said. Ouachita becomes so much the better with each one that’s shared and viewed.
By Chris DiGiovanni, Sports editor