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Mark Campbell is all about perfect timing. Whether it’s snapping a shot at just the right moment or jumpstarting his photography career, he values being in the right place at the right time.

Currently in his 11th year of shooting for Blue Hen Athletics, Campbell’s time behind the camera originated when he moved from Connecticut to Delaware for his sophomore year of high school. At that time his grandfather built him a dark room and he started taking pictures for his high school newspaper and yearbook.

Campbell became familiar with University of Delaware athletics at a young age since his father graduated from UD. Between attending football games and listening to them on the radio during high school, Campbell’s Blue Hen loyalty began to grow and choosing Delaware to continue his education was a no-brainer.

Campbell continued to attend football games during college and flourished into a big-time fan. “We would definitely go to every single football game; I don’t think I missed one in four years,” he remarked.


Ultimately, football launched his enthusiasm for sports photography.

“I actually have some black and whites from some football games that I took pictures of from the stands. I’d go down from the stands to where the box seats were, snap some shots and then go back up to my seats,” Campbell recalled.

Campbell graduated in 1981 with a degree in business and eventually settled into his long-term career working for Wilmington Trust, now M&T Bank, as an investment advisor. His interest in photography tapered off, until he discovered digital photography and his passion was reignited.

“It was fascinating to me that I didn’t have to be in a dark room with all these chemicals and fumes,” Campbell explained. “I could alter the photos’ sharpness and contrast. Everything on the computer was amazing to me, it just blew me away.”

He didn’t jump back into shooting sports, but instead photographed family events. Eventually Campbell was approached by a friend to take game pictures for IAA.org, a website devoted to I-AA (now FCS) football. This opportunity brought Campbell back into the sports world.

In December 2006, Campbell attended a Christmas party and before leaving his house that day, he grabbed a handful of prints that he had taken from a football playoff game.

“I went to this party and there were 12 to 16 people there, and somehow these pictures made their way around. Karen Pyle, who worked for UD Photo Services at the time, saw them and asked if I would be interested in shooting sports for Delaware. It was the right place and the right time. If I had left my house and not brought those prints, who knows? She saw my work and said, ‘you’re good enough for us.’”

Campbell’s timing proved to be perfect yet again. The first game he shot for the Blue Hens was a women’s basketball game in February 2007, and at that time the athletics department was looking for a primary photographer. Campbell started working as Delaware’s main sports photographer in the fall of 2007, which happened to be Joe Flacco’s senior year. Once again, great timing.

During his tenure, Campbell has been on the sideline for many unforgettable Blue Hen moments.

“There’s nothing like shooting a big-time football game, with 20,000 people in the stands. But if I have to pick certain moments that are really special, it’s hard to beat the women’s basketball game against North Carolina in 2013. Before the doors even opened to the Bob Carpenter Center an hour or two before tipoff, there was a packed crowd outside. It was amazing.”

Another powerful moment for Campbell was last year’s field hockey season.

“The thrill of beating Duke on their own home field was just indescribable. They were the top seed and had beaten us the year before. Then winning it all, going the whole way to the national championship, was incredible.”

Working for UD Athletics and shooting 21 different sports has helped Campbell see Blue Hen student-athletes through a different lens.

“These women that play lacrosse, field hockey and volleyball, etc. are very competitive, they’re fast and strong. They’re just as admirable as the men in terms of their dedication and devotion and how competitive they are.”

One of the most rewarding aspects Campbell finds from his work is the appreciation from the athletes and their families.

“I just get a sense that my images are going to be in their families forever. What’s really nice to know is how impactful what I’ve done is to some of these families.”

Campbell, who gives back by funding overseas trips, contributing to locker room projects and endowing a scholarship in his name, is closely tied to Blue Hen Athletics and started generously giving back to the department about 15 years ago. Since getting to know the players and admiring how hard they work, he feels passionately about doing what he can to make their lives a little better.

“I have a real affection for UD and am interested in helping as much as I can. I have a softness in my heart for these student-athletes because I know how much they work. I don’t think the general student population understands how hard it is to be a student-athlete because their season doesn’t end. It’s year-round. Oh, and by the way, you’ve got to juggle a 15-credit semester,” Campbell said.

Through his photos, Campbell tells the story of each game without using words. He emphasizes that timing matters, and being in the right place at the right time can mean all the difference. The University hopes that he continues to be in the right place at the right time at Blue Hen events for years to come.

Story written by Summer Haran, UD Athletics Communications Student Intern