Morgan Gibson, Staff Writer
October 20, 2023
Who is the man behind the lens? A tall, bespectacled man materializes, snaps a picture or video, and vanishes just as quickly as he appeared. From phenomenal videos in assembly to captivating Instagram images, there is one man behind all of these: Ben Heider. “Heider is a storyteller who brings to life all the wonderful things that students and faculty and staff are doing, and he does it in such a way that is also really visually beautiful and emotionally evocative,” Assistant Director of Communications Kim Neal said. Heider, a fellow member of the Communications Department, oversees the majority of the school’s multimedia. Though the Nobles community is familiar with Heider’s work, the man himself remains a mystery.
Heider hails from Dayton, Ohio, and graduated from Boston College in 2012 as a film major, though he initially pursued physics. Heider said, “I thought I wanted to be an engineer—after a couple of years of that, I wasn’t passionate about it, I wasn’t enjoying the classes, I wasn’t motivated to stick with it. But I loved making films.” After taking an Intro to Filmmaking class in his junior year, Heider focused on film from then on. “My senior year, I took ten film classes,” Heider said. After graduating, Heider moved to Los Angeles to pursue freelance videography. He took on a variety of work, from traveling to Peru for a documentary on gold mining to taking on miscellaneous jobs sourced through Craigslist. During this time, Heider also worked in the music industry, where he crewed the music video for “Scream and Shout” by Britney Spears and Will.i.am. “I helped set up the green screen and sound. [Britney Spears] came in with this huge crew, sat down, did one take of the song, and left,” Heider said. He also helped create a behind-the-scenes video for the band KARMEN.
Though Heider could have continued freelance work, he chose to return to Boston due to his family and then-girlfriend, now wife, residing there. In 2014, Heider’s girlfriend’s mother saw a job opening at Nobles and shared it with him. Heider was at JFK airport, en route to shoot a wedding in Nantucket, when he sent in his application. Heider said, “I finish the application, send it off. Fifteen minutes later, getting a snack before getting on my flight to Boston, I get a phone call from Dedham, Massachusetts.” The call was from former Communications Department Chair Heather Sullivan, who asked him if he would like to come in for an interview. The next day, the two spoke, and Sullivan extended a job offer to Heider immediately. Although many know Heider for his amazing photos, he didn’t begin his journey as a photographer. “I didn’t go to school for photography, but I’ve sort of fallen into it. I’ve only ever taken one photography class,” Heider said. One of Heider’s main responsibilities is to capture promotional multimedia; his ability to capture unique moments within the community is an immense asset to the marketing team. Dean of Faculty Maura Sullivan said, “He just increases our ability to advertise our school and different areas of our school in a really cool way.”
Considering the professional quality that characterizes Heider’s videos, some have jokingly asked, “Why does he work here? Why Nobles?” In response, Heider explained that he highly values the exceptional community of Nobles. “I enjoy the variety of the work and being able to shoot really exceptional students and being able to see my colleagues teach in a way that I don’t remember I experienced as a high schooler,” Heider said. Some might characterize working with multimedia as monotonous, but Heider explained that it is not “boringly so,” and it instead allows him to continuously grow and learn from previous works. The Nobles community stipulates that there is something special about Heider and his photos. When looking for subjects, Heider often focuses on emotion. “[I shoot] until I get a facial expression, body expression, and position that is dynamic, or energetic, or whatever emotion I’m trying to capture,” Heider said. Furthermore, he spoke about shooting at eye level, rather than from above, highlighting the significant impact this position has on his work. Heider said, “Oftentimes, people shoot photos [as] they are standing straight up, whereas I am always crouching down to get to eye level—or table level—in a classroom.” From the perspective of others in the community, Heider showcases different points of view in both a literal and figurative sense. Neal emphasized Heider’s remarkable abilities as a photographer. “[Heider] take[s] something ordinary and make it extraordinary,” she said. Neal posits that Heider’s relationships with students and the community are prevalent in his work. “He cultivates relationships with the students, and he actually knows their names, so I think that when he is representing people, there’s an existing relationship there. That comes out of a caring place,” Neal said.
Despite being most well-known for his photos and videos, Heider is a hugely multifaceted community member. When asked to describe him, Sullivan spoke about the larger impact that Heider has in the community outside of videography and said, “[He is] a hugely talented guy. He was hired to do a certain job, and yet he has involved himself in other areas.” Having played Ultimate Frisbee in college, Heider is an assistant coach for Nobles’ Ultimate team and loves adventure sports, such as backcountry skiing, surfing, biking, and swimming.
Heider adds tremendous value to the Nobles community and has a true talent for capturing moments through photos and videos. Neal said, “What’s amazing to me is that he’s been here for almost 10 years now. And he’s constantly finding new ways to tell a lot of similar stories. And he’s just very thoughtful and intentional about doing that.” Capturing moments one click at a time, his humility and kindness know no bounds, and Nobles is incredibly lucky that Heider and his family call our campus home.