Column: Journalist documents her journey with photography, writing


Morgan Reese

In a digital constructed image, two photos of photojournalist Morgan Reese from 2006 and 2021 sit side-by-side. Both photos were taken on the same bridge at Prather Park in Highland Park, Texas. Stacey Reese, Morgan Reese’s mom, took both images 15 years apart.

I never planned on taking photography or writing seriously, but now, I could never imagine my life without them.

My mom stayed at home for most of my childhood, occasionally taking up photography gigs as a hobby. She most often photographed me. I grew up surrounded by cameras and studio lights, absolutely loving the attention and the beautiful outfits and locations that came with photo sessions. My baby albums are full of professional quality photos, and my mom’s skills only improved as I grew older.

Inspired by my mom, I got my first camera at 5. My little pink princess camera thrilled me. I eventually got a real digital camera at 8. I would take photos of everything I could –  most of them of my hamster or my extensive collection of Bath and Body Works hand sanitizers. 

In middle school, my photographic focus shifted more toward nature photography on my phone. I grew up loving the outdoors and animals, so it felt natural for me to want to capture the moments that brought me joy.

When I entered high school, I decided I didn’t want to pursue photography and took theatre and band electives. Sophomore year, I signed up for a theatre class, and I knew that it wasn’t for me. I went to my counselor to switch out and found myself on the way to photojournalism, the only class available for that period.

At sunset, Taylor Reese holds her dog, Buttercup. Morgan Reese took this photo of her sister using her mom’s Canon Rebel T2i. This was her first portrait. (Morgan Reese)

Despite never having shot with a DSLR before, it felt natural to me. I started out shooting nature shots like I did in middle school on my phone, but quickly found that I loved portrait photography when I took photos of my sister one day.

I started to feel out of place in class. While my passion grew, others in the class were apathetic to photography. My teacher, Mrs. Roskens, came to me and asked me if I wanted to join the school newspaper to publish my photography, and by the second semester, I had transferred into the newspaper class.

A bee swarms a pink flower on Sept. 21, 2019. Morgan Reese took this photo in her photojournalism class on her first week. The photojournalism class has now been replaced with commercial photography. (Morgan Reese)

My mom and I were ecstatic when I published my first slideshow over the 2020 Winter Guard team. Looking back, the photos aren’t some of my best work, but hitting the publish button on that slideshow marked a turning point in my journalistic journey. Seeing my work out on the internet excited me, and I almost became addicted to covering events. Then the editors made me cover sports, which, at first, I hated. But, I ended up loving sports photography, and some of my best photos came during game coverage.

While I enjoy covering events, portrait photography holds a special place in my heart. Shooting portraits allows me to be creative and capture important memories for people. Taking portraits always reminds me of my mom’s photos of me over the years. Photography has given us something to bond over, and now when she takes senior photos of me, we always talk together about what settings to use or different locations and color schemes.

Standing atop a fountain in Downtown Grapevine, dancer Elizabeth Matlock imitates a sculpture of Atlas. Atlas, a titan, fought in the war against Zeus in Greek mythology. In the famous sculpture, he holds the heavens as a punishment for his crimes in the war. (Morgan Reese)

By the end of my sophomore year, I had become comfortable with photography. But, due to quarantine, there weren’t many opportunities for me to take photos at events. Mrs. Roskens suggested that I start writing articles to continue publishing. 

I loved creative writing, but I generally disliked any sort of expository writing – despite my aptitude for it. I wrote my first story on the Winter Guard’s season being cut short due to the pandemic, and I loved it. I wrote about what mattered to me and the readers. Journalism gave us both a voice. 

 I continued to write articles for the next two years on the team and discovered my love of writing. I owe it to journalism for helping me decide what I want to do for the rest of my life, which is teaching upper-level English or journalism.

Journalism and photography have been a huge part of my life and shaped who I am today. Both allow me to capture the moments and stories that truly matter and need to be told. While I do not plan to be a journalist in the future, the lessons I’ve learned have prepared me to shape the next generation of storytellers.