This new feature will highlight visual journalists in small markets who are often doing it all on their own with little support and few eyes on their work. This will include staff, independent photographers and videographers.
Photographer Mikala Compton
Publication New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, New Braunfels, Texas
Social media Instagram @newbraunfelshz, @mikalacompton
How long in the business? Nearly two years
Size of photo staff? Just me.
Educational background University of Missouri
Success can look differently per most situations. What was a big success for you in this position and why?
My biggest success came recently. There is a quiet Buddhist temple in the area, and they had a neighbor file a lawsuit against them complaining that the temple was not following the property restrictions. The deed restrictions limit lot use to residential use, with limited commercial and agricultural use allowed as well. The neighbor’s main argument against the temple is that it breaks the deed restrictions by operating primarily as a commercial facility rather than a residential lot. Prior to court, I profiled a day in the life of the monk to show his simple lifestyle and daily activities as he resides at the temple. Once the trial began this month, the defense attorney actually used some of my photos in his deposition defending the monk, who went on to win the case. The temple is the only Buddhist place of worship in the area and is sacred land for them. I am glad my photos could be used in a way that portrayed their lifestyle and help the jury, and readers, to have a better understanding of the temple and its people.
On an award-winning note, I was named star photojournalist of the year for 2018 by Texas Associated Press Managing Editors in the small newspaper category, which was a huge honor for my first time entering the competition and less than a year on the job. Without a photo editor, it can sometimes be difficult to judge my own work, but that award assured me that I am moving in the right direction.
Why do you love photojournalism?
I love photojournalism because it adds beauty and connection to stories. It allows readers a glance into others’ lives and a chance to understand situations they might not be privy to. The more we learn about each other, the more we can grow to understand each other. Even smaller, day-in-the-life photos I capture are something special because they showcase people’s passions. I’m called to capture the human emotions of everyday life, and I'm thankful for that.
Mikala Compton is available for freelance in the Austin or San Antonio area of Texas.
Email: [email protected]; Instagram @mikalacompton.