Bringing a vibrant style, photographs to Towson University
Senior photography major Paige Detwiler stands out in a crowd as captain of the color guard, proud member of the queer community
By Kyle Hobstetter on October 19, 2023
When she walks around campus, Paige Detwiler is easily noticeable.
The senior art and design major, with a concentration in photography, stands out in the crowd thanks to their unique sense of style. That style usually involves vintage clothing and a different hair color each semester.
Whether it’s bright orange, aqua blue or even neon green—which she admits was a personal favorite thanks to how it looked under a black light—Detwiler isn’t afraid to express themselves as a proud, queer student at TU.
“I get joy from having people come up to me to talk about my hair or my outfit, or my friends will get mildly annoyed that people are talking to me and not everybody else,” Detwiler says laughing.
“I felt like Towson University was a good space to be myself that way. I didn’t feel like I had to fit in traditionally. It’s almost like signaling to other people like me, especially those looking for other queer students on campus.”
Detwiler explains that while queer and gay may go hand in hand, she believes being queer means being more outwardly expressive. Growing up in Frederick County, who had a small queer population, Detwiler knew a lot of gay students in high school but not a lot of “queer, out-there students.”
And while she felt ostracized in a way back home, when she arrived at TU and the surrounding Baltimore area, it felt a lot different. Not just in size but the community they were able to find.
“The community here is much more vibrant,” Detwiler says. “And Towson University has done an okay job advocating for its queer students specifically. And not just during Pride month or when it’s convenient.”
When deciding on a college choice, Detwiler knew they wanted to stay in state. As she was making her final decision, she remembered coming to TU for a high school marching band competition.
It was there she saw the Towson University Marching Band for the first time. After that first experience, Detwiler knew she had to be part of the band. This fall will be her fourth year. They are now captain of the color guard—or as she likes to say, “the ones with the flags and the fun uniforms.”
“A lot of my closest friends are from marching band, and it’s just a fun process being with these people six to seven months of the year,” Detwiler says. “Knowing people come specifically to see the marching band is really special because when I was in high school people, were just kind of neutral about it.
“Having an environment where people are actively excited to see the band is just incredible.”
And while Detwiler’s personal life makes them stand-out, she is looking to go into a career that lets others shine.
Detwiler’s passion for taking pictures started when she was a child.
During a vacation to the beach, Detwiler’s dad gave her a point-and-shoot camera. During that vacation she took hundreds of photos of random things and a lot of her little brother.
“And my dad saw that those were special to me, even though they were literally photos of nothing,” Detwiler says. “He printed all of them. I have this big stack from Walmart or CVS of just 200 or 300 prints just sitting. And I’ve been interested in photography ever since.”
Since starting their journey at TU, Detwiler says she has become more refined as an artist. Along with taking classes and having access to a photo studio and equipment, Detwiler has also worked with Towson University’s Department of Photographic Services in the University Marketing and Communications division.
Working with Lauren Castellana, TU’s director of photographic services, Detwiler has gotten more experience photographing events and things that are spur of the moment.
When Detwiler started her work-study, Castellana was earning her master’s degree in photography. By working with Castellana, Detwiler was able to learn from a successful, female photographer, she also was able to watch her boss mix personal passion with professional drive.
“Seeing Lauren was able to pursue what she wanted to do artistically and make a whole career out of being a photographer was really inspirational for me,” Detwiler says. “It is a stressful career to go into. Especially wanting to be a freelance photographer in the future and run my own business, it’s a scary jump.
“But seeing someone I know that is successful and doing what she loves, it’s inspirational to me.”
On the path to graduate next fall, TU has helped Detwiler grow personally and professionally. It’s also given her plenty of opportunities to do one of her favorite things: capturing moments.
“My camera roll is full of like, thousands of pictures, and being able to relive moments or capture a moment and edit it let's me express how I see the world,” Detwiler says. “I typically make colors more vibrant, which I guess is reflective of me as a person.”
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