• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

WKU photographer works Pence event


Isabel Brinegar’s trip to take pictures of last week’s rally featuring Vice President Mike Pence began with a call to her hometown paper.

(The story of Pence’s visit, illustrated by one of Brinegar’s photos, is on the front page.)

The junior at Western Kentucky University (WKU) is a photojournalism major, and wanted to take photos for her portfolio that might also be used in the school newspaper and magazine.

“I was literally scrolling through Facebook and I saw that one of my friends had posted something about (the event), and I read the article and texted a few people. I was like, ‘Hey, is this fake news? Like, what is this? Is this real?’ And I thought, this would be a really cool experience …” Brinegar said.

She said she sent several emails asking about credentials, but was unsuccessful.

“I was like, ‘Well, I’m sure old faithful Woodford Sun will know what to do,’ so I just called my hometown newspaper,” Brinegar said.

(The Sun forwarded Brinegar an email address we’d used to gain access, and she and a classmate got their credentials.) Brinegar said she’s liked photography since she was a young child snapping away with disposable cameras.

“I started to really get into photography, actually taking photos, in middle school, when I found some of my grandpa’s old photo gear. Then I just kind of went from there. In high school, I did a lot of photography – I was on the yearbook and everything like that,” Brinegar said.

She said she’s enjoyed telling stories since she was a young girl growing up in Versailles.

“I’ve always liked to write stories … and I’ve always loved photography as well. I thought putting the two together – being able to tell a story through photos, like through a visual thing – you don’t need words. Anyone could look at that photo in the whole world and see something and take something away from that,” Brinegar said.

She said she also hopes to “refine” her writing ability as well and that the ethical rules of photojournalism, like not arranging items or people for what should be a candid photo, are important to her.

“I’m so bad at portraits, actually. I’m taking a portrait class right now and I am so bad at staging people, because I’m not used to it,” she said with a laugh.

Brinegar said she went into the Pence event with no expectations, but plenty of excitement.

“I was just amazed, like, ‘Wow, I’m here, doing this,’ and I had no idea that we were going to be able to go up to the front (after Pence’s speech) and take photos. And when I found out, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is crazy – I can’t believe I’m doing this right now,’” Brinegar said. “Normally, I feel like in a situation like that, I would be very, very nervous and scared, and I wouldn’t know what to do. But I was the complete opposite. I was excited. I was just so happy to be there, just to get this experience and take these photos and talk to these people and get their stories.”

After graduating, she hopes to put her degree and experience to work in some aspect of still photography.

“I don’t know, like, big-picture, but right now I think that photo story-telling is something I really want to stick with. Just get better at and try to do well and maybe later on, if I decide (on) video, I guess I could go in that direction,” Brinegar said.

After the event, she managed to work in a visit to the home of her parents, Richard and Heather Brinegar, where she regaled them with the story of her visit to cover a vice president.

“It was such a cool experience. I really liked it,” she said.

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