Writing

Blog-Style Writing Sample:

[Published with photos on Three Rivers Resort blog (for SEO) on Sept. 7, 2017]

How to Take Great Vacation Photos

by Katy Mooney, Three Rivers Resort Photography Manager

Have you ever come back from travelling and been disappointed by the pictures you took? As a professional photographer living in a resort town, I'm here to offer some advice. Documenting your family’s vacation is simple, and it doesn’t require any fancy equipment. Any smartphone manufactured in the last five years is equipped with a camera powerful enough to capture beautiful, high-quality images. A few quick tips are all you need to take mantel-worthy vacation pictures.

1. Ask for help. 

Often, the photographer in the family is not in any of the pictures from the vacation because she or he is the one taking them! A meaningful family photo includes every member of the clan. Simply ask a fellow traveler or an employee of the company you’re patronizing to take a picture for you. The result will be a beautiful memory of the whole family together - perfect for your holiday card.

2. Take candid photos.

The posed photo of the family lined up and smiling in front of a tourist attraction is often a nice shot that will preserve your memory of the trip. Additionally, taking candid photos provides a more accurate representation of each family member’s personality. Without announcing your intentions, quietly snap some photos during special moments - your son saddling up on a horse for the first time, or your spouse’s face as they land their first river salmon. These pictures will freeze moments in time and bring a smile to your face for years to come.

3. Get close to the subject.

The closer you get to the subject, the better your photos will be. I often see folks snapping pictures of the mountains out of their car windows. These shots almost always include a barbed-wire fence or power lines - not exactly the wild and untouched Colorado scene that you were hoping to show your Facebook friends! Get out of the car. Even a short walk will take you to a more beautiful (and less visited) vantage point. This rule applies to people as well as scenery. The closer your camera is to your subject's face, the more emotions you'll be able to capture there.

4. Consider paying a professional.

Going rafting? Skiing? Snorkeling? These activities are photogenic, but they don’t mix well with expensive electronics. Many outdoor adventure companies offer photography services too. Ask about them when you book your trip. A professional photographer armed with high-end camera gear will take both posed and candid pictures and videos of everyone in the family while they're participating in the activity. If it fits in your budget, consider this as an alternative to bringing your own camera (and running the risk of dropping it in a river or off a chairlift!). Another option is to hire a local photographer to take a family portrait in a picturesque outdoor setting. It’s easy to find great photographers via a quick Google search or by asking for local residents’ recommendations.

5. Know when to put the camera away.

You went on vacation to spend quality time with your family, right? Then put the GoPro down and hang out with them! Nobody likes being photographed every minute of the day. People will react more positively to a camera used sparingly. Be an active participant in your trip first, and a documentarian second. You don’t want to get back home and realize you missed out on the fun because you were behind your camera the whole time. Even if you don’t get the shots, you’ll have the memories. And that’s really what every traveler is after.

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Journalistic Writing Sample:

[Published with photos in Columbia Missourian newspaper on Mar. 14, 2011]

Boone Life: What It Feels Like To Go Pro

COLUMBIA — Most people’s childhood career dreams become idle fantasies as they grow up, but that’s not the case for Hannah Riddle.

Riddle, 20, of Ashland, and her horse Barney are a professional barrel racing team. Their first pro competition was the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Rodeo in Sedalia on Feb. 25.

Riddle fell in love with riding as a child when she and her mother would ride together on their farm in Orrick.

“I had just about anything a cowgirl could want there,” Riddle said. “An indoor area, an outdoor arena, tons of land.”

Riddle’s passion for riding continued as she grew up. She got her first barrel racing horse when she was four, and she and Barney compete in barrel racing competitions across the country.

Riddle started barrel racing with Barney in amateur competitions in 2007 when she was still in high school. At first, they didn’t mesh as a team, she said.

“He was ready, but I wasn’t with him," Riddle said. "He was one step ahead of me the whole time."

When Riddle moved to Columbia to attend MU, Barney came with her. The hours they spent together helped them grow closer.

“I learned how to be his friend, and it really started showing in the arena,” Riddle said.

Riddle placed in many amateur barrel racing competitions and was recognized as the 2009 United Rodeo Association Rookie of the Year. The rodeos were going so well for the pair that Riddle decided to start racing professionally.

At the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Rodeo, Riddle and Barney knocked over one of the barrels, causing them to be disqualified.

“Pro rodeos are different from the amateur rodeos in the sense that I’m not running against four good horses anymore," Riddle said. "I’m running against 15 to 40 barrel racers that are all capable of going in there and winning.”

However, Riddle remains positive.

“Barney’s definitely running even harder than he was last year,” she said. “And he’s only 11 — he’s just coming into his prime right now.”

Riddle has taken her first pro loss as motivation to do even better in the future.

“This goes to show that we can’t make mistakes anymore," she said. "We have to be 100 percent all the time. And we can get there.”

The test will come at the duo’s next race, the Barrel Bash, from March 25 to 27 at the Boone County Fairgrounds.

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Technical Writing Sample:

[Excerpt from 2018 Three Rivers Resort photography department training manual]

How to Photograph a Rafting Trip

  • Sign in with date, trip, time, and initials on the “Photo Trip Log” spreadsheet located on the Desktop of the photo department computer.
  • Bring camera bag, cell phone, water bottle and rain gear. 
  • Check in with trip leader (TL) and confirm shuttle procedure.
  • At the put-in, help guides: roll up ratchet straps, pass out water shoes, fit life jackets, answer guests’ questions and move vans.
  • Before the guides begin the safety talk, take posed family photos using the short lens. Note which guide was assigned to each family to streamline post-trip file organization.
  • Drive the van down the road, stopping to take action photos (refer to pages 10-12 for descriptions of photo stops).
  • If you’re on an Upper Taylor trip (UT), open the trailer doors and fill the bootie-wash bucket with water and soap at South Bank.
  • Rain Procedure:
      • If weather is inclement, keep the camera dry, even if it means not taking photos. 
      • Keep your phone nearby in case a guide needs to alert you of a distressed guest.
      • Road shoulders become muddy in heavy rain; park on paved surfaces to avoid getting the van stuck.
      • To keep the camera dry in light rain, cover it with a plastic rain cover (stocked in each camera bag). Keep the camera zipped under your rain jacket while waiting for the rafts. Keep the camera bag dry. Manager: Stock each camera bag with a rain cover and replace throughout the season as needed.
  • On-River Emergency Procedure:
      • At the beginning of the summer, put phone numbers for all TLs in your phone. Keep the photo department cell phone up-to-date with these numbers, too. Manager: Stock each camera bag with a paper copy of the staff phone list and replace throughout the season as needed.
      • Know which raft guides are EMTs.
      • Do not step deeper than knee deep in the river - don’t make yourself another victim.
      • Alert nearby raft guides.
      • Text the TL if they aren’t nearby.
      • Call a manager at the shop and explain the situation.
      • Follow raft guides’ directions.
      • Stay on scene until problem is resolved. Safety > Photos
      • Only discuss the emergency with pertinent resort staff (never guests or journalists).