Pioneer Spotlight: Andy McNeill and Tyler Ensrude
Oftentimes mistaken for one another, Andy McNeill and Tyler Ensrude, are lifelong friends and co-workers at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. McNeill is a senior artist and Ensrude is a media specialist. They share close quarters in the lower level of Brigham Hall. Because of similar job responsibilities and a longtime friendship between them and their families, their peers have affectionately given them the celebrity name of “Tandy.”
They have both earned university staff awards for excellence while working at UW-Platteville.
The duo grew up in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, attending elementary school together. They graduated from Dodgeville High School in 1997 and enrolled at UW-Platteville. Ensrude graduated from UW-Platteville in May 2001, before studying for a semester on scholarship in Japan, while McNeill graduated in May 2002. They both earned bachelor’s degrees in communications technology management.
Prior to leaving for Japan, Ensrude was working as a photographer in the publications office on campus. He recommended that McNeill apply for a job in the department. He did and was hired as Ensrude’s replacement.
Ensrude returned from Japan in 2010 and was in search of employment. McNeill, knowing there was a need in the department at the time, suggested his friend apply for a photographer position. Ensrude applied and was hired.
The pair shoot hundreds of events during the year, often on nights and weekends, to capture the heart and soul of UW-Platteville.
What are your responsibilities and do you get requests from many groups and organizations?
Andy: Mine would be scheduling events, covering events, editing the photos and getting the photos out to the people and archiving, as well as my weekly duties. We either get a photo request or I go online and look on the calendar. Now that I’ve been here so long people know I’m going to be at certain events and they don’t request them anymore.
Tyler: My role has changed. As a media specialist I have adapted to the needs of the university over the years, whether that be social media or video or whatever is needed, on top of the photographer duties.
What’s it like growing up together, going to school together and now working together for all these years?
Andy: Apparently we look alike and our names are interchangeable.
Tyler: It’s easy. If we didn’t get along I don’t think we could do it. We are similar in our tastes and our shirts.
How often do you get mistaken for each other?
Andy: During the semester I’d say weekly. Yesterday I just got an email from someone who I’ve worked with for years and the email said, “Hey Tyler.” I get called photo guy, which is fine. Even people who have been here for years still get us confused. They will call and say, “Tyler was at that event and I was wondering if I could get those photos.” Yeah, no, that was me.
Is there a favorite event that you like to photograph each year?
Tyler: I’ve enjoyed getting photos and video of classes doing research in the field the last few years. That’s fun. I’ve also enjoyed the roles I took on over the last few years in social media for homecoming. I was excited to shoot live Facebook video of the parade and the lighting of the M during homecoming week. I was happy to see that it got a really great response.
Andy: The one that comes to mind is the first home football game; a nice, warm, Saturday afternoon and the drum line starts going. That’s what I like. I like all Homecoming stuff. I also like going into classes and shooting research, having students explain their work. It’s cool hearing what they’re doing.
One thing I’ve always prided ourselves on is that we always show what happens here. We don’t stage photos. We don’t gather up people and say “sit here.” We may not always have the perfect lighting or angles, but this is how it happens on campus.
Do you guys think you’ll retire together?
Andy: It wouldn’t be a bad thing. You never know. With technology changing, the one thing you’ll always need is photos and video. You’ll still need a human to capture those images and you’ll always have a need for it and to document history and what it’s like from decade to decade.
Tyler: I like to say we are documentarians too. I wouldn’t mind retiring here.