Heartland student is top high school photographer in nation

ESSEX, MO (KFVS) - A Richland High School Student recently reached new heights as a photographer.

Now she is taking her knowledge and skills even further; teaching a class that she, herself, is a student in.

Katelyn Pinkley recently attended a convention with the national Journalism Education Association in Indianapolis in November 2016. She received a superior for her portfolio overall, making her one of the highest rated high school photographers in the nation.

"I'm just from Essex so it really doesn't make any sense that I would have that," Pinkley chuckled.

Emily Blunt, a classmate of Pinkley's, also finished with a superior as well in the portrait photo division.

"I thought that was probably one of the biggest awards that I've gotten," Blunt said. "It's pretty cool."

Throughout her years at Richland High School, Pinkley has won roughly 75 national and international awards for her photography. She learned her skills and from her business teacher, Kyle Carter, in her desktop publishing class.

It's a class she is now helping to teach.

"I want my students to be self-sufficient," Carter said. "I want them to be able to take something from step one all the way through step thirty and I want them to understand the process. But I also want them to be able to teach that process to somebody else."

"I wouldn't have learned that from him if he wouldn't have been a great teacher to show me that," Pinkley explained. "I wouldn't be able to be a great teacher and show my staffers that. So it's definitely empowering to know I am passing on my knowledge to others and being able to set a path for them."

The yearbook staff has won many awards throughout several years, mostly due to classmates helping out one another.

"She teaches me things about photography that I probably didn't know. She teaches me about going out in the world and doing stuff like this," Blunt said, pointing to a picture on her computer.

We caught up with Katelyn as she walked around answering questions and offered her expertise to some of her classmates.

"I'm a senior now so what I'm doing is going to be short-lived," Pinkley added. "I'm going to graduate. I'm going to college so I'm going to have to leave all my yearbook babies behind and it's going to be really sad. But I feel content with knowing that I can leave and they will still know what to do."

She even showed another student how to set up a backboard camera as they got ready to shoot a basketball game on Tuesday night.

"We hang a camera behind the backboard and get basketball pictures behind it," Pinkley said. "It's really cool. Nobody else around here does it."

Carter believes he is blessed with so many talented students he has had throughout the years there. While he teaches his students in the classroom, they also learn a lot in the field.

"What we do here, what we've studied and what they've learned, they really do it not only to the best of their ability but some of the best in the nation," Carter said. "I couldn't be prouder. I couldn't be happier."

Many photography students put their skills to the test outside the classroom when shooting basketball games and other events.

However, these students are starting to see the impact of their skills.

Last week Pinkley and Blunt went with Carter to interview country music artist Garth Brooks.

"It was a once in a lifetime experience," Blunt said. "I hope it happens again but Garth Brooks is just the top of my list."

For Pinkley, she has seen her skills take her even beyond that as she has joined Carter in teaching other Heartland schools the art of photography.

"We will actually go to different schools and we will share our knowledge with them," Pinkley added. "The way I see it, they obviously are not my staff but they're interested in the same thing I am."

For Pinkley, she will continue to learn and teach at her final year in Richland. She already has a career in photography and plans to take that to the next level in college after being accepted at Ball State University.

For her class, she knows they will continue to excel with or without her and they will be in good hands with the teacher that helped her get where she is today.

"I'm going to be sad when I leave but it's going to be okay because they're still going to be great. They're still going to be getting all these awards and they're going to be just as successful as I am," Pinkley said.

Download the KFVS News app: iPhone | Android

Copyright 2017 KFVS. All rights reserved.