Not only is Brother Charles Epting, Beta Tau (2015) making a name for himself in the world of photography, this summer his first book was released, University Park Los Angeles: A Brief History. Between the photography schedule, classes, studies and social obligations where does one find time to write a book?
“It's been tough to find the right balance between school work, photography, writing, and other obligations, but I feel like they all balance each other out and never cause too much conflict,” said Epting. “One of the great things about writing and photography is how flexible they are, so I do my best to never let them get in the way of my studies,” he continued.
“Once I had the idea for my first book, finding the time to actually sit down and write it came fairly easily,” he said. “I was able to use whatever free time I had--whether it was a few minutes or a few hours--to get as much written as possible, and before I knew it the book began to take form. In a way, it was a very therapeutic break from the usual monotony of schoolwork and homework,” Epting added.
“My photography hobby was very unexpected for me,” said Epting. “My dad is a music journalist, and two-and-a-half years ago he convinced me to photograph one of my favorite bands (Coheed & Cambria) for an article he was writing. I had never used a professional camera before, and
had absolutely no idea what I was doing--but once I got home and looked at the pictures I had taken, I was hooked. I received my first digital camera as a gift from my parents a few months later, and began photographing as many concerts as possible. The hobby has only grown since then, and developed into portrait photography, photojournalism, and pretty much whatever else I can find to shoot,” Epting said.
Epting had always had a deep appreciation of history. Growing up, even the family vacations included visits to a few historic sites.
“When I began attending USC in the fall of 2011, I immediately immersed myself in the history of where I knew I'd be spending the next four years of my life,” said Epting. “As I began to explore campus, though, I was surprised at the lack of information that was available. I imagined how much fun a guidebook to the history of USC and the surrounding neighborhoods would be for students, staff, and alumni--so I decided to give it a shot and try to write that book myself,” he said.
For Epting, one of the most challenging parts of writing the book was the lack of information about certain aspects of the campus’ history.
“Certain buildings that used to stand on USC's campus are now all but forgotten; I spent many hours digging through old newspaper archives, telephone directories, and maps trying to piece together the early history of the university,” said Epting. “ I feel that it's important that that sort of information be preserved and passed on to future generations--hopefully my book will help other young historians out there dig deeper into the histories of their schools as well,” he continued.
So far the book has been well received around the USC campus.
“Feedback has been fantastic--professors, alumni, and students have all loved the book so far,” said Epting. “I just found out that the USC bookstore is going to be carrying it shortly. My goal in the next few weeks is to give USC's President Nikias a copy of the book,” he said.
Of course, with book releases come book signings.
“My first booksigning was an incredible experience--the turnout was fantastic, and the store was very happy with how everything went,” said Epting. “ I put together a speech on the top 10 things I learned about USC while writing my book, which people seemed to love,” he said.
When asked why he chose Theta Chi as his fraternity, Epting had this to say.
“Coming to USC, I didn't have much interest in the stereotypical fraternity lifestyle. However, by my second year, I noticed that a few of my best friends were all in Theta Chi. They invited me to grab lunch with a few of their brothers, and after meeting them and hearing about their experiences with the group, I knew that it was the perfect fit for me. Joining Theta Chi is by far one of the most rewarding decisions I've ever made,” said Epting.
According to Epting, his brothers have been very supportive when it comes to his book.
“A few of them came to my first couple of booksignings,” said Epting. “Everyone who's read the book has told me they've learned things they never would have imagined about USC,” he added.
So what is next for Charles Epting?
“I'm currently working on my second book ("The New Deal in Orange County: 1933-1941), which is due out next spring, while continuing to expand my photography as well,” said Epting. “I'm currently a geology major with minors in environmental studies and history, and am hoping to attend graduate school to become a paleontologist after my undergraduate work is done,” he said.