Last spring, when Charles Benoit, a Studio Art major with a minor in Museum Studies, participated in the Culture, Community, and Social Impact in Chicago study away program, the group visited the Field Museum, where Benoit learned they were digitizing the largest insect collection in the world.
After the talk, he spoke with the museum’s Insects Director. That meeting eventually led Benoit to an internship as an Insect Photographer for that Field Museum digitization project.
“I approached [the Insects Director] to see if I could help out or learn more about the photographing process,” Benoit said. “We exchanged information and I sent her my resume and portfolio and I ended up getting the internship. That is something that I recommend to new students. Do not to be afraid to approach someone if you are interested in what they are doing and see if you can help. It shows great initiative.”
Benoit just completed his summer internship at the Field Museum, which allowed him to explore photography in a different light.
The internship had him taking scientific photographs of type specimens, which are the only specimen in the world that describes the rest of the species. These photographs were added to the museum’s database, which scientists from around the world can access for their research.
“My favorite part of the internship was being able to have some artistic freedom with the insects on lighting them and photographing them in nontraditional ways to really explore the beauty of these creatures,” Benoit said.
His experience as an Insect Photographer has inspired him to consider picking up a minor in Entomology from the College of Natural Science.
Now back on campus and ready to begin his junior year, Benoit currently works for MSU’s Residential Housing Services where he takes photos for their website, social media, and print media. In the past, he also has worked for VIM Magazine, The State News, and the Department of Art, Art History, and Design.
I truly discovered who I am as a person and as an artist here…I found Studio Art and I finally was able to indulge in my creative side and explore ideas and issues and make them into art.
His time at MSU has helped him realize how much he enjoys doing creative work.
“I truly discovered who I am as a person and as an artist here,” Benoit said. “I switched majors from Engineering to Journalism because I thought I would like writing, but that was not right either. I could see what I wanted to say but I could not put it on paper. That vision and creativity brought me to bring a camera to my eye and I fell in love.
“I then switched my major to photojournalism, but again, it didn’t fit me right because I was telling someone else’s story rather than making it more artistic. That’s when I found Studio Art and I finally was able to indulge in my creative side and explore ideas and issues and make them into art.”
Benoit encourages other College of Arts & Letters students to explore all areas they are interested in.
“Spread your wings and truly find out what you love to do and never stop working for your dreams,” he said. “Anything can happen and don’t be afraid to change your major or take an extra year just to do what you want to do. The main point would be to not listen to those who want to hold you back, just do what you love and everything will work out if you truly work hard.”