One in Two Thousand: Angel Santiago ’25

Amina Naidjate

(Amina Naidjate/The Williams Record)

Each week, the Record (using a script in R) randomly selects a student at the College for our One in Two Thousand feature, excluding current Record board members. This week, Angel Santiago ’25 discussed his sports photography job, running Vista’s Instagram account, and his love for Spider-Man. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Amina Naidjate (AN): So I know you’re involved in sports photography on campus, but what exactly does that entail?

Angel Santiago (AS): I picked it up at the beginning of last [academic] year as an unexpected opportunity that came through a friend. But within it, I do photography for all the sports I can —  I’m not really limited to football or soccer. I’ve tried to do field hockey, ice hockey — really anything that comes my way. I love shooting for all of them, [and] it’s always a challenge.

Before coming to Williams, I had never really shot for sports before, other than for some track and cross country. So really, a lot of times, I’m learning on the job how to actually get good angles and how to frame my shots. I think my best shots this season have been for volleyball, and that was because I was watching another sports photographer [capture shots], and I was like, “Let me copy their techniques.” So yeah, it involves a lot of learning on the job and having, as my mom says, “sin vergüenza,” or “no shame.”

I also edit all the photos, which is a grueling process that I spend maybe a little bit too much time on. Then I pick the best of the batch, send it over to my bosses, usually share them with the athletes, and put them on the website. So that’s my job — it’s a lot, but it’s so much fun.

AN: Sounds like it! What got you into photography in the first place?

AS: I think it’s partly because of my parents — mainly my mom. I remember she always had a camera with her. Seeing her photos was something really special to me, because it made me realize that a photo is like a freeze frame in time. It’s something that you can keep for however long you want. It’s really putting a moment in a bottle, and being able to provide that joy over and over and over again through photography is something super meaningful to me. Now when I’m with my friends, I always take my camera with me and take photos with them. It’s sweet to be able to capture our time together.

AN: Pivoting topics, you’re also the social media coordinator for Vista  [the College’s Latinx and Allies student organization], right?

AS: Yeah! I never really knew that graphic design for social media was something that I was interested in before my time on the Vista board, but I found that it was sort of an extension of photography. I’m not the most eloquent with my words sometimes, but through these visual [media], I feel like I can express myself the best. I started designing visuals on Canva, but as I got more invested in graphic design, I was like, “OK, Canva doesn’t let me do the things I really want to sometimes, so let’s move to Adobe Illustrator.”

So a lot of the designs that you see now on the [Vista] Instagram — shoutout to @wcvistagram — are made from scratch. One of the posts that took the most time was the board introductions for this year, which are really intricate. [I spent] maybe about a week or more on that design solely. 

I was talking to someone the other day and they were like, “Oh, you run the Vista Instagram? I love the designs!” I love hearing that because [the designs] are so distinct; they’re so Vista.

AN: Switching topics again. We’re in the same “Linear Algebra” study group, which you’re taking because you’re a math and sociology double major, correct?

AS: Yep, and a LATS [Latina/o studies] concentrator.

AN: Oh, right! I’ve never heard of that combo before. How’d you choose it?

AS: I’ve never heard that combination either, so it’s pretty new to me, too. [Laughs.] I used to want to study math, but I had this one bad experience with a teacher junior and senior year of high school, so I kind of fell out of it. But then I took MATH 140 in my freshman fall with Professor [of Mathematics] Thomas Garrity — “Gar-bear” as I like to call him. 

AN: No way you just called him that.

AS: Actually, I’ve never said that to his face. [Laughs nervously.] Anyway, I say it to others all the time though — I love Professor Garrity. [His class] was just the spark I needed again to make me realize, “OK, I do like this. I do enjoy this.”

[For] sociology, I did not even have an inkling of a clue what sociology was before Williams. [In my freshman fall], I saw a SOC 101 class and was like, “Yeah, why not?” When I took it, I realized, “Wow, this is actually so cool.” One thing that I really wanted to do in college was break down the reasons why societies choose to do certain things and why cultural structures are set up the way they are, and I could [study that] in sociology.

[Latina/o Studies] was something that I saw in the course catalog that I was really intrigued by. Growing up in southern California, the Latinx-American experience was something that shaped my community, but I had never interacted with the subject in an academic setting before. I had never felt like I was reading about me, so being a LATS concentrator was an obvious choice for me.

AN: Speaking of the obvious, you’ve made it pretty obvious in the past that your favorite superhero  — by far — is Spider-Man. Peter Parker is cool and all, but why him?

AS: Yes, oh my god. To preface this: I swear I’m not a nerd. Actually, maybe a comic book nerd though. I love comics. Well, I’ve actually never actually read one before. When I was younger, I didn’t have too many around, but I remember looking up the latest comics on YouTube, reading the synopses, [and] keeping up to date with all the superheroes. I thought they were so dope. And especially with Spider-Man, he was a nerd who then became a superhero. He wasn’t cool and had to go through so much hardship — in much more relatable ways than other superheroes.  That made me think, “That could be me! That could be me right there.” The character inspired younger me to be hopeful and do good. So, do I love his powers? Yes. Do I want them? Yes. But I think it’s the ethos of Spider-Man that’s a lot more important to me.

Wait, maybe I am a nerd.

AN: On a different note, I know you’re hoping to study abroad for your whole junior year, which means that you really only have 1.5 years left on campus.

AS: [Eyes widen in realization.]

AN: Crazy, I know. Is there anything still on your Williams bucket list?

AS: Hmm. Oh my god, major bucket list item: taking a selfie with a cow on Stone Hill. Before I got on campus, I swore that I wouldn’t post again on my personal Instagram account until I took a selfie with a cow, and I still haven’t taken one. Every time I’ve gone to Stone Hill, there are no cows, but everyone keeps talking about them. What is this? What’s up with my luck? Where are the cows?

AN: Maybe it’s all a lie?

AS: Probably! Anyway, I still haven’t posted on my Instagram yet. Still waiting.

AN: Alright, to finish off: Do you have a final message to the Williams community?

AS: Now that I’m thinking about the 1.5 years I have left on campus, I guess I would ask people — and myself — to please live in the moment. The time we have is so limited here, and if we spend it all on “Oh dang, that assignment really didn’t go well,” then we’re really gonna miss out on important moments. We’re not getting this time back, so I want to appreciate it while it’s here.

On a less serious note, can someone please teach me to backflip? I want to get as close to being Spider-Man as possible.