CLASS OF 2009: Get to Know Preston Culver
Name: Preston Culver
Major: Radio-TV–Film (now known as Film, Television and Digital Media)
Hometown: Arlington, Texas
Preston Culver ’09 comes from a long line of Horned Frogs. With a family history of Texas Christian University employees and graduates, including his sister, brother-in-law, mother, uncle and cousin, the Culver family has formed a strong connection to TCU. “You could say we have purple blood,” he said.
From his decision to attend TCU to his decision to leave his dream job to support his wife’s career, Culver has always had strong allegiance to family. To that end, his family has played a major role in shaping his career path and influencing his life decisions, enabling him to find personal fulfillment in his professional work.
Culver graduated from TCU with a degree in radio-TV–film, which was a decision largely inspired by his mother. Sensing her son’s panic while walking together on campus one day, his mother gave him a piece of advice that sparked his desire to pursue a degree in radio, television and film. “Why don’t you just do something that you like to do? Then it will never be work,” she said.
Culver had always found photography and editing fascinating. “I worked in feature production following graduation, which was a very cool experience, especially following all the radio-TV-film classes I had just taken over the previous years,” he said.
His greatest professional achievement stems from a decision inspired by the career of his father, a 36-year Dallas firefighter.
Following Culver’s work in feature production, he landed a job as the in-house photographer and videographer at the Austin Fire Department (AFD), where he traveled passed the yellow tape on emergency scenes to capture the stories of the first responders – up close and personal.
Culver’s job granted him exclusive access to high-profile scenes. His photograph captured from the Halloween floods of 2012 was featured in the Huffington Post, and he was among the press pool during President Obama’s memorial speech following the West Texas explosion that took the lives of 12 firefighters. “It was a pretty sweet gig,” he said.
Culver enjoyed working with the AFD so much that in 2016, he applied and successfully passed all of the tests to become a firefighter himself. He was able to continue doing production work on the side, under Preston Culver Photography, but his experience working as a firefighter was his greatest professional achievement. “It makes me very proud to be the son of a retired 36-year Dallas Fire Fighter and to have done it for those four short years myself,” he said.
Culver also helped create the AFD’s drone program, the Robotics Emergency Deployment (RED) Team, which was the first major metropolitan department in the country to have an active and certified drone program. He flew on several active incidents, providing real-time aerial perspectives to incident command and documenting the emergency scene for news coverage.
Currently, Culver works in business development and special projects for Drill Bit Exchange, a drill bit recycling company located in Austin, Texas.
From producing films to working for a family-owned startup, Culver attributes his diverse skill set to his ability to experience a multitude of professional opportunities. “A variety of experiences is never a bad thing, in my opinion,” he said. “I take little lessons with me that I’ve learned from each job along the way.”
Culver’s education from TCU enabled him to build relationships, which played a role in his post-college life jobs and decisions. He encourages current TCU students to start networking, gain life experiences, and build a resume. “In the meantime, keep grinding, and one day you’ll look up and you’re being interviewed ten years after you graduated, giving advice to students, as if you’ve figured it all out,” he said.