Senior Column | The DI gave me the experience of a lifetime

The Daily Iowan photojournalist and filmmaker Daniel McGregor-Huyer talks about his once-in-a-lifetime experiences in his final year at the DI.


Matt Sindt

Photo by Matt Sindt (Contributed by Daniel McGregor-Huyer)

Daniel McGregor-Huyer, Photojournalist

I’ve been around Iowa City for a long time. I came here in 2017 through the University of Iowa’s REACH Program, which specializes in helping students with cognitive and intellectual disabilities.

Through my first three years at the university, I worked in videography for local TV stations like City Channel 4 and PATV. After PATV went out of business and the COVID-19 pandemic ended my time at Iowa early, I was stuck in a void, not knowing what would come next. Was I going to come back to Iowa?

That was when I applied to The Daily Iowan in summer 2020 and decided to return to Iowa to pursue a degree in cinematic arts. I didn’t think about journalism much before the DI,  but my experience for the last three years showed me there’s a lot to appreciate, and it can give you once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

For starters, it’s hard to believe that I’ve spent the past year photographing two of the greatest Hawkeye student-athletes: wrestler Spencer Lee and basketball player Caitlin Clark. It’s one thing to say you’ve been in a room with professional athletes, but it’s another thing to say you’ve been in a room with athletes that are the defining image of their respective sports. Although neither achieved the goal of winning a national championship at the season’s end, they both still had a phenomenal year that I won’t forget.

While photography has been at the forefront of my senior year, documentary filmmaking has also been a big highlight for me. Being a part of not one but two documentaries in the same year is amazing to me. My experiences editing “Chasing Greatness: Wrestling Life” and “Lost in the In-Between: Graduating into 2020” in The Daily Iowan Documentary Workshop were a blast.

Not only did I work with the best collaborators in the world, but I got the hands-on experience that I desired as an aspiring filmmaker. Going through over 500 hours of footage between both films — with a heavy emphasis on caffeine and affirmations from Iowa wrestling coaches Tom Brands and Terry Brands — felt worthwhile. This also wouldn’t be possible without my colleagues Ryan Adams, Ayrton Breckenridge, Jenna Galligan, DI Documentary Workshop films coach John Richard, and director and DI photo coach Danny Wilcox Frazier.

It’s hard to believe that after six years in Iowa City, I’ve accomplished a lot in my time here. This wouldn’t have been possible without the people that have been behind me and pushing me to be the best that I can be.

A big shoutout goes to Grace Smith and Jerod Ringwald: the best two-punch combo for sports photography. I also want to thank my family and my colleagues at the UI’s Student Video Productions for supporting me every step of the way. My time at the DI showed me that journalism can be a gateway for once-in-a-lifetime experiences.