Christa Neu sits in the front window of Alexandra's Bistro on 4th Street in Bethlehem. Neu meets regularly with fellow Lehigh colleagues who also love to support the Southside Bethlehem restaurant. (Holly Fasching/B&W Staff)

Christa Neu follows new passion in teaching


Christa Neu grew up surrounded by photography and storytelling. Her grandmother and mother were both photography enthusiasts who always had their cameras with them to document life’s moments. 

As she grew older, she began to look through their photo albums and connect the photos to faces and stories within her family. Neu believes this is the value of photography. 

Neu has been pursuing photography for decades. Today, she is pursuing another career path in teaching, becoming a professor after working at Lehigh for 12 years. 

After graduating from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, Neu moved to New York City and worked as a photo assistant at TV Guide Magazine. As she sat in her cubicle on Sixth Avenue, Neu began to wonder why she didn’t get out of the office more to look around. 

This thought inspired her to leave her job to become a photography director at Organic Gardening Magazine.

Then, 12 years ago, a friend introduced her to Lehigh. Since then, she’s held different positions on campus, including being the photographer for the Office of Communications and Public Affairs. She serves as an advisor to the Creatives of Lehigh, collaborates on projects with the Lehigh University Art Galleries and has been a guest lecturer in the journalism department’s Visual Communication course.

Last semester, Neu was given the opportunity to teach Visual Communications, a class that studies and practices techniques of multimedia and storytelling. 

“It was my first time teaching, and I was very nervous,” Neu said. “I’m always nonlinear and chaotic, and I think that’s why I’m good at portraits.”

Neu said she was eager to do a good job for her students. When she first came to the classroom, she explained to her students that this was her first time teaching and she felt sure she would make mistakes. But, she said her newness would bring much more to the classroom.

She said her favorite part of teaching so far has been watching her students transform. 

Neu believes journalism is changing every day, and the class should be focused on teaching students how to tell a story and coming up with solutions, in addition to photography or writing.

“I would come across different classes and everyone had a different personality,” Neu said. “Whether they were introverted or extroverted students, they worked very hard and were very talented.” 

Neu believes she is not just teaching her students, but learning along with them. 

Bella Etkin, ‘25, is a student in Neu’s visual communication class this semester. As a mass communication minor, Etkin was interested in learning more about the appeal of visual communication in journalism from this class.

Etkin said she believes she is not yet a great photographer, however, she found Neu’s class to be both a learning experience and a fun activity. 

“I can say 100% that the professors have been helpful,” Etkin said. “It feels like a nice community now, just like the class itself.”

For Neu, the moment of pressing the shutter is a moment of pause and storytelling. Just like a photograph, a true story is fine even if it’s not perfect, the most important thing is the process of trying.

“(Neu) is very energetic,” Cate Monaco, ‘25, a current student of Neu, said. “She gets us excited about all of our programs because she’s very passionate about it.” 

In the classroom, Monaco felt Neu’s passion for photography and teaching. Neu also helped the students save their work and create portfolios to prepare them for future job applications.

“(Neu) would always show us how to use things we used or learned in class in real life, and she really helped us a lot,” Monaco said. 

Neu hopes to continue her career in photography and teaching in the future, which she considers both a fortunate and valuable opportunity.

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