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March 2, 2023

Hearts on campus

Michigan State University photographer Derrick Turner is always on the lookout for a heart as he documents life in East Lansing

A collage of heart shapes in nature by MSU photographer Derrick Turner

Derrick Turner is a man who sees hearts everywhere. Turner — a longtime MSU photographer you might recognize for the dapper porkpie hat he styles every day — documents life on campus with his camera. But for the past nine years, he has also sought out an image that is less literal, the coincidental outline of a heart.

Derrick Turner with a camera in Olds Hall. Photo by G.L. Kohuth
Derrick Turner. Photo by G.L. Kohuth

“I see hearts in nature,” he said. “I can’t explain it.”

It started by chance when he noticed the pattern in some leaves. He took the picture. Then he noticed another one somewhere else.

“Now I see hearts every day.” Since then, he has captured over 50 hearts in the clouds, in the snow, in the grass and even in the bark of trees. And hand on his own heart, Turner confirmed that there is no digital manipulation used to complete the heart shapes.

This passionate pursuit led to the collage above, first published about a decade ago. But he can’t stop finding the shape amongst the lines and shadows outside. Last month, he released a new gallery just in time for the most heart-filled day of all, Valentine’s Day.

“That’s what I’m known for,” he said. “I’m the guy who finds hearts. It’s my gift, and I’m happy that I get to share it at MSU.”

By: Carlos Acevedo