New anniversary book celebrates Stanford at 125 years

Photographer Alex Webb provides a visual time capsule of campus life with images taken during 10 days in fall quarter, 2015.

Open the new book, Stanford 125: A Visual Exploration, and step into a vibrant campus experience at Stanford University. The 88-page book offers a glimpse into the life of Stanford through the lens of noted photographer Alex Webb. Produced by the Office of Public Affairs in celebration of the university’s 125th anniversary, the book’s images were captured on campus over 10 consecutive days last fall. Faculty, staff, students and community members gathered at Bing Concert Hall on May 25 for the book’s debut.

“As we mark this milestone across the university, we are celebrating Stanford today, in the context of its past and future,” said David Demarest, vice president for public affairs. “The book tells the story of the university in the moment – capturing the richness and the reality of everyday Stanford through the penetrating insight of street photography.”

The book is a collaboration between the 125th anniversary team, University Communications and partners across campus. “We chose a candid photographic approach to capture a surprising and intimate view of Stanford,” said John Stafford, senior director of digital media strategy and creative director for the book. “It is, in essence, a visual time capsule of 10 days at Stanford in its 125th year.”

The photographs span a wide range of the school’s diverse campus community from the Windhover contemplative center to SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory; the Cantor Arts Center to the Main Quadrangle; the Graduate School of Business to the virtual reality lab. The book is a snapshot of snapshots; magnified moments that collectively reflect Stanford’s commitment to sustainability, interdisciplinary collaboration, the arts and humanities, student life, athletics, research and innovation.

Magnum photographer Alex Webb, who has published 11 other books, had not visited Stanford’s campus before he arrived for the photo shoot. “I was struck by the tremendous number of different activities on campus,” Webb said. “I didn’t expect to be photographing a farm. The school has a visual richness with late morning and early afternoon golden light on the sandstone, and a lot of color and light inside the science lab rooms in particular.”

“We visited at least six sites each day,” Webb said, “resulting in a set of impressions and interpretations of Stanford. The essential impetus of the street photographer is one of curiosity. We bring few preconceptions and our only agenda is to explore and discover.”

Webb noted that one of his favorite shots was taken on the Main Quad as he was looking at the light on the arches. “All of a sudden, a white dog emerged. I get excited about the pictures that are utterly unexpected: when something happens that transforms my experience.”

At the book reception, Matthew Tiews, associate dean for the advancement of the arts, noted that starting with the Class of 2017, all undergraduates will take a hands-on Creative Expression class as part of the requirements for a Stanford degree. “The arts were an integral part of Jane and Leland Stanford’s vision for the university and as we sit in the Arts District today, we continue to see the impact of that legacy,” said Tiews.

“This book is really fresh and different,” said reception attendee Larry Horton, ’62 and ’66 MA, whose 50-year career at Stanford included roles as associate dean of student affairs and senior associate vice president of government relations. “The images gave me a different view of many places on campus.”

Stanford 125: A Visual Exploration is available at the Stanford Bookstore and at Information and a selection of images can be seen at