Homecoming 2016: I wrote this then didn’t publish it because I fell asleep

& that’s pretty much how my entire week has gone because it’s been so exhausting!

Mikala Compton

This weekend was my final homecoming as a Mizzou student, and the nostalgia was overwhelming. It’s slowly hitting me that this is a year full of lasts, this being the first major “last” that I’ve experienced. Since I work as a photographer for the University, Homecoming is always a crazy busy weekend and I’m constantly shooting events.

For this week, I want to take a look back and see how I have improved as a photographer by looking at my past Homecoming coverage compared to now.

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The first photo is from this year, while the second is from 2014. Same location, but very different angles and thought process behind shooting.
This was the first year that I covered the parade without walking in it with my sorority, and I think it turned out better, coverage wise. I got a wider variety of groups and wasn’t tied down to catching up with one certain group while walking around.
I even managed to work my way onto the roof of the student center, which wasn’t easily accessible, but I used my connections and ended up getting escorted up there by a team member of the house keeping staff for the unions.

Selfie of me on the roof because I think I’m cool.

The photos I got from the roof aren’t the best, because there’s only so much personal interaction you can get with shots from a bird’s eye view, but I think they added to the overall photo essay. I tried to look out for shadows and patterns as the parade marched on down below.

Kids from the Step Program at the Boys and Girls Club of Columbia perform in the Homecoming Parade on Rollins Street on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016.


Mikala Compton


It was nice to get that vantage point, and definitely was a unique shot that no one else got, but the downside was it took time away from getting some photos that people could connect with more on a personal level through interactions.

Mikala Compton


The two photos above are probably my favorite that I got while in the crowd. The one below is from 2014. I chose these as comparisons because it shows to me just how much more comfortable I am as a photojournalist. Two years ago, I was afraid to get closer and afraid it would be invasive if I worked my way too much into the situation. Now I’m not afraid to take those steps (literally, *ba dum tiss*) to getting closer to people that I encounter. I feel like learning that lesson brought my work as a whole to a new level and helped me better connect with subjects.

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From left, Bryson Moss, BS BA’ 01, and Michael Lilien make a pile of leaves with their daughter Avery  Moss and Josephine Lilien outside of the Mizzou Rec Center after the Homecoming parade.

It’s been nice to take a second and realize just how much I’ve grown as a photographer over the years. Who knows where I’ll be 365 days from now, but maybe it’ll be back in Columbia to revisit this place I’ve learned to call my home and photographing it once again.


Seeing differently in the district

This week I will discuss the importance of sticking with a seemingly-simple situation for longer than expected and the results it can have on your work.

I shot decorate the district which is when organizations paint their theme on the windows to different businesses downtown for Homecoming weekend. It’s always fun to walk downtown and see how different organizations portrayed their themes.

I walked around for a while but I ended up spending the most time at Campus Bar & Grill with a few women from Sigma Kappa sorority. Their theme was rainbow fish so it was helpful for my photos to have a bunch of colorful imagery. I made some photos outside but indoors was clearly the better option for photographs (& warmer for me 🙂 which was a perk! ). You can see both the faces more clearly and the strokes of paint.


I liked the one above because it shows the atmosphere and overall feel to the window decoration.

The one below I thought was a little funky but I still liked it. She was looking intently at her work and didn’t even notice I was shooting her from the tiny opening in the fish’s mouth.


This last one was a bit more tricky. It was taken from inside while I was standing on a chair looking down. It was not a very comfortable position, but i think it shows the importance o angels and how switching things up from our regular point of view really does make a difference in the appeal of a photograph.

Mikala Compton

I’ve been told since my early days of shooting in high school to stick with a situation for at the very least 10 minutes and I stand by that advice in everything I shoot. It gives you a greater opportunity of seeing, experimenting with photography and working the room for new [perspectives.

Lawrence, Kansas: Missing the shot

Mikala Compton
Star Wars antiques hang on the wall.

Well I left this weekend very disappointed because I broke a promise to myself and keep kicking myself for it.

I told myself when starting this blogging adventure that I would take a photo whenever I saw it and not let anything hold me back.

Welp. I let something inside me hold me back. I saw a shot and I didn’t take it. And it’s not like this shot would’ve been a life-altering, portfolio-worthy image. But it was there and could have been beautiful and I can still see the image of it in my mind.

What held me back was anxiety that I was inconveniencing anyone.

I was in Lawrence, Kansas this past weekend visiting friends from high school. Yes, I know, the city of the enemy aka KU, but can you really expect anything else out of a Kansas girl? I have to visit at least one a year!

It was so nice to catch up with friends I hadn’t seen in a while, including my friend Bailey who I hadn’t seen in probably 2 years. I met up with her at her boyfriend’s house, which is where the above photo was taken. I actually really like the photo. The house was full of antiques because her boyfriend’s parents collect antiques and the mantle was full of Star Wars memorabilia, which was unique and unexpected. The Star Wars first captured my attention, but I soon noticed the random specs of glitter covering the ceiling. I asked Bailey about it and even she have a specific answer. The house used to belong to her boyfriend’s grandmother before she passed away, and there’s no way of figuring out how the glitter originally got there, but it’s there to stay.

It was such a unique environment I knew I had to take a photo. It was dimly lit but I didn’t mind and I exposed for the available light. I wanted to be able to see the mantlepieces as well as the shadows on the ceiling and the specs of glitter. I think I really did capture the odd-essence of the house in that image.


The image I wish I would have gotten was a portrait of Bailey.

We were leaving the house and she was in a hurry to meet up with her boyfriend while I was in a hurry to meet up with some other friends. There was a moment that lined up perfectly where she was passing in front of the square kitchen window and her silhouette would’ve been perfectly framed.

But we were both in a rush and I didn’t want to inconvenience her with my photography holding her up so I didn’t say anything. I didn’t take the shot. It would’ve only been a minute. No, not even a minute. 30 seconds. That’s all it would have taken. And for whatever reason I cannot stop thinking about it. I don’t think it would have been the photograph that would’ve been so excellent, but I think Bailey would have appreciated it.

Next time, I won’t break my promises.





This past weekend my friends from high school, Peter & Graham, came up to visit me. Peter is in nursing school in Topeka, Kansas and Graham goes to KU. I see them whenever I’m home, but they’ve never come to visit me before so Columbia was a new adventure for them.

1_mc27422They really are the two best of friends, and though the photo above might not be the best shot technically, I think it really does portray their friendship.

With that being said, something I’ve learned over the years is that the better shot technically might not be the one you want to tell your story. It is the reason I chose the photo above over others in my take from the weekend and also sometimes a hard lesson to learn.  Sometimes things just don’t line up perfectly in your image to create the perfect combination of moment, lighting & composition. Sometimes the moment takes over and is the dominant characteristic that you need. It’s not ideal but a moment is exactly that: one moment. There’s no recreating it without infringing upon your journalistic integrity. And what’s the fun in that if you do? There’s an exhilaration that comes with photographing even the simplest of things and i feel like that exhilaration is gone and ruined by trying to recreate a moment. Moments are precious and pure and a beautiful aspect about photography is that you capture that just as it is. There’s a thrill you get when capturing a photo where compositionally all the elements line up, and the lighting is perfect, but there’s nothing like capturing a moment that won’t happen again.

This photo was the best of the take I did of Peter playing his banjo. I chose it because I liked how the light creates a small triangle on his face and how his hand is strumming the banjo but i shot at a low shutter speed (1/30th of a second, to be exact) so it created motion blur.

But these aspects are not my favorite part of this photo. It was the fact that one of my best friends was sitting on my front porch, strumming his banjo and singing the best he could (yet very off-key) on a random Friday night. It was once of those moments that you look around and are thankful for the people around you that make your life special. It was one of those moments that took me back in time to high school, yet made me think about how far we’ve come since then and how much we all have grown. It was a perfect fall night.

It was a moment I now have captured forever and I will always be thankful for that.