Two Black Hills State University students now have billboards as a part of their portfolios. Becca Gage and Daniel Merchen,who both work in the marketing office at Black Hills State University, took photographs that are featured on new billboards and displays promoting the University.

Two Black Hills State University students now have items in their portfolio that few students, or even accomplished photographers, can tout. Becca Gage and Daniel Merchen, who both work in the marketing office at Black Hills State University, took photographs that are featured on new billboards and displays promoting the University.

Becca Gage, mass communication major from Sisseton, and Daniel Merchen, corporate communication major from Spearfish, both say it is rewarding to see their photographs used as major components of the University’s marketing campaign.

“It’s always great to see my photographs in newspapers and brochures, but it’s really cool that my photograph is now on a billboard,” Merchen says.

“It makes me feel successful,” Gage says.  The two have taken hundreds of photographs for the University since joining the marketing staff as student workers.

Gage says the photograph of students studying on the campus green was a great selection for the billboard because it showcases the beauty of the campus while also emphasizing student learning.  The photograph, which she set up with BHSU students at a specific time to get the best lighting, includes Crow Peak in the background with a group of students studying on the campus green.

 Photography by Becca Gage, BHSU student

“I wanted to highlight the fact that you can live in a beautiful area and have exceptional learning opportunities while enjoying the company of friends,” Gage says. “The campus green is the place to meet with friends. It was a fun photo shoot, and it’s all very natural.”

 Gage, who will graduate in the spring, had a photography show in downtown Spearfish last year and is currently working on another exhibit for her Contemporary Photography class. She has been selected for a highly competitive internship position with Dave Stoecklein, one of the accomplished master photographers in Canon’s “Explorers of Light, which she will begin as soon as she graduates.

 Graduate photography by Dan Merchen, BHSU student

Merchen had perfect timing with his spur-of-the-moment shot of a BHSU graduate proudly displaying her diploma at the commencement ceremony in May. His photograph of Beth Knight, a 2012 graduate who now is a co-host of the morning show at Hot 93.1 radio, is featured on a billboard near Mitchell. Dan says he thinks the photograph works well on the billboard because it is “spontaneous, demonstrates success, and authentically speaks to other students.”

Merchen says he started getting serious about photography after receiving a nice camera from his parents as a high school graduation gift. He will graduate with a corporate communication degree from BHSU this spring. Last summer, Merchen completed an internship for Countryside Church in which he was responsible for setting up their HD video system and overseeing their web presence. He says the internship and his time as a student worker have given him experience that provides direction for his career goals.

Corinne Hansen, director of marketing and communications at BHSU, notes that having student workers involved in the creating and distributing of marketing campaigns is a win-win situation.

“Our student workers bring creativity, insight and enthusiasm to our marketing and communications initiatives,” Hansen says. “We have exceptional mass communication and marketing programs at Black Hills State University, and we have found it’s advantageous for us to have students involved in all of our communication efforts. The students have the opportunity to work with marketing and communications professionals while building their portfolios and defining their career goals. It’s always gratifying to see them graduate and advance to successful careers.”