Beyond the Frame

As every day is different, so too are the moments we experience. Hence, with my writing skills not as sharp as my photography, I will do my best to speak with words instead of pictures.

Photography was not my first choice for a study career. Ever since I was young I wanted to be a storm chaser. The adrenaline of the unknown while traveling across the US and eventually the world to experience weather phenomena with my own two eyes was my all-time goal. It was October 2019 just in my Sophomore year of college at Iowa State University when I, along with three others, were on a storm chase that put us face-to-face with a towering Shelf Cloud storm system. Moving east at 60 mph, the awe of being up close and personal with this storm encouraged me to capture it digitally, to remember the feelings I had experienced that day. When we stopped for shelter under a church portes-cochères entrance to wait out the storm, I realized that something answered the reason why I wanted to be a storm chaser. After a couple weeks, I had decided to change majors and colleges, move back home, and start my new college career with a pursuit in Fine Arts with an emphasis in Photography at Minnesota State University, Mankato. 

In September of 2021 as a Junior, while attending an intermediate photography class, an international IT student, Mansoor Ahmad, mentioned at the beginning of class that the Reporter college newspaper was searching to hire photographers for the campus newspaper. After class I walked up to him and said I was interested in applying, little did I know from that point how much my life was going to change. Now, after two years at The Reporter as a Staff Photographer and one year simultaneously as the Photo Editor, I can say now that was one of the best decisions I made during my time at MSU Mankato. 

I would not have had my experiences and opportunities if it was not for the people that accepted me to work at the Reporter. Jane Tastad, Business Manager of the Reporter, has been there supporting me through the toughest of times as well as welcoming new opportunities into my life. In some ways, I feel she is more family to me. The advice, wisdom, guidance, and support has helped me through more times than I can count. Dana Clark, Advertisement Design Manager & Production Coordinator, always encourages me to explore the expansion of my digital horizon as well as being creative both in my photography and in my own interests. Something that will stick with me is, “The best way to learn something is to go out and try it. You may not get it the first time, but that experience allows growth to learn.” The help I received did not stop from those just in the office. 

I have the utmost respect and appreciation for those that granted me opportunities to take pictures at MSU. I am immensely grateful for the support Paul ‘PA’ Allan had during his remaining time at MSU. His dedication and professionalism in sports has encouraged me to see the value in my photography as well as the passion to do what I enjoy. Scott Nelson and Nick Burns have both been great resources for questions and the ability to continue taking pictures over this last semester. Byron Synstegaard, Assistant Athletic Director/Sports Operations, was one I could always count on to greet and ask questions at sports games. With a smile on his face, his enthusiasm and knowledge better prepared me to be in the right spots at the right time. 

Another big influence to better not just photography but my overall journalism perspective comes from a former Reporter Editor, Robb Murray. His assistance over the last 2 years has shown me how to better structure my photos to flow with the rest of the paper. He also taught me to enjoy and have fun during the times I have in the moment rather than to over complicate the simple things. 

I will always be thankful to the photographers that I met along the way. My first year at the Reporter as a Staff Photographer I got to meet David Faulkner from SPX Sports who helped me better understand the technical fundamentals of properly adjusting my camera settings to varying conditions. It has been a pleasure taking pictures alongside both Jackson Forderer from SPX Sports and Pat Christman from the Mankato Free Press. From sports games and Hockey Day Mankato, to concerts and events, their knowledge, passion, and enthusiasm to expand my visual creativity within photography will be carried with me as I improve my craft. 

One of my closest friends and the former Reporter Media Director & Photographer, Mansoor Ahmad, has been my greatest guide, support, and influence that I have had the pleasure to work with and learn from. There is not enough room to fully express the level of respect and appreciation I have for Mansoor. I have been daily influenced by his work and his passion to tell stories through photography. My photography has been forged from his guidance and I will forever be grateful to have met and learned from such an incredibly knowledgeable and talented person. To those that also are graduating and sharing this paper with, thank you for the memories and influences to have more fun in life. Thank you to all my friends and professors for the knowledge and memories, and I wish you the best of luck in life. Finally, thank you to my parents who have been there from the beginning before I even considered photography and for being the best support system throughout my time at college and furthermore. 

The opportunities and time I’ve been able to dedicate improvement towards myself and my craft over the last two years at The Reporter are irreplaceable and uncomparable. I will remember my time and am forever grateful for the connections I have made and the opportunities I had while working at the Reporter. Cheers for the times everyone, thank you.

Dylan Engel

(Courtesy of Dylan Engel)

Write to Dylan Engel at dylan.engel@my.riverland.edu

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