For most of us, taking pictures is as simple as hitting a button on our phone screen and that’s it. Tons of pictures are churned out by many people every day, but most lack some kind of story. For Austin Resnick, a junior television and digital media major at Montclair State University, taking photos is something more than point and shoot. Every time he touches his camera, it has to mean something—it has to pay homage.
If there is one word to describe Resnick, it’s friendly. Meeting him at the radio station where he was DJing his 4 to 7 “Indie Nation” show was interesting, but it showed that he is friendly to anyone that crosses his path.
A couple people came in during the show for on-air interviews, and he greeted them with a strong smile and talked to them with a steady baritone voice that is strangely very calming. He knew exactly what to say to them on-air and off, and was personable and very professional. His show went smoothly.
His listeners might not know what he looks like, but they know he is their friend. From my vantage point, I saw as his dark eyes rolled over the computer screens in search of his next song, and how he brushed back his dark curly hair into his baseball cap, which he is often seen wearing.
It’s hard to find someone who takes friendship as seriously as he does. He is loyal and would do anything for his tight-knit circle of friends. His world revolves around them. But it was one friend that changed his life forever.
Resnick met Connor Cummings during his freshman year of high school. Cummings was a funny and goofy kid, but Resnick thought he was really cool and they became great friends. Around their junior year of high school, Cummings got into photography.
“He got good really fast,” said Resnick. Soon Cummings was getting a lot of followers on Instagram, where he would post his photos.
On the night of December 30, 2015, Cummings went to do a photo shoot in the city with another photographer. They got up to the top of the Four Seasons Hotel. It was a horrible night and it was cold and raining when Connor was looking through the viewfinder of his camera, backed up, slipped and fell from where he was on top of the building. His camera, which contained his last photos, lay on the ledge safe.
The next day Resnick and all of his friends were woken up by text messages saying how sorry people were. The word spread all over the news and Twitter, and it was a hard thing for Resnick’s entire friend group. It changed their lives.
“It was hard,” said Resnick. “But it changed how I am as person and how I view things, but more importantly, he really inspired me to get into photography. The last conversation I had with him, it was two days before he went into the city, and I told him I was thinking about getting into photography. I started talking to him about cameras and stuff. And that was the last time I saw him.”
Since his friends passing, every picture Resnick takes with his camera and whenever he goes out and does a shoot, he thinks of what Cummings would do in the situation. How would he take this picture? Resnick still looks at his friend’s Instagram page for inspiration all the time.
With his Canon T5i—the same camera Cummings started out with—and an 18-by-35-millimeter lens, Resnick enjoys taking pictures of the outdoors, specifically the night sky, the stars and constellations, which is one hundred percent inspired by Cummings. He lives in a very wooded area, and whenever he goes on hikes he brings his camera.
“Austin picked up photography pretty quickly,” said Alex Wong, one of Resnick’s friends. “We went on a hike when he first got his camera and the pictures we took were amazing”.
After downloading constellation apps on his phone, he concentrated on astral photography, which calls for a specific 16-millimeter camera lens made to take pictures in low light. All he has to do is put his camera on a tripod, switch the settings to manual, the shutter speed between 15 and 25 seconds to take in as much light as possible and shoot. After a shoot, he puts his pictures through the editing software Infinity Photo. He likes to travel far and remote places in the country where the sky is clear enough at night to get photographs of the Milky Way. Although Resnick doesn’t think he’ll use photography in his career he still loves it as a hobby.
“He would never admit it but his photography skills have already grown so much in this year,” said Owen Dachisen, another of Resnick’s friends. “He’s really learning how to capture the energy that exists in a moment. His art has not been just cool to witness but an honor to be a part of as well.”
Resnick recalls that a couple nights after Connor’s accident there were some of the clearest night sky’s he has ever seen and you could see every detail of the sky. Him and his friends spent a lot of time outside just thinking.
At one point in the night a friend of his mentioned that he had never seen a shooting star. Sure enough as soon as he said it the most beautiful shooting star ripped through the night sky. The feeling after it faded away was unlike anything Austin had ever felt before. They turned to one another and said it was Connor.