Kennedy Weatherby: NSPA Photojournalist of the Year Portfolio


Dave WInter

In 2021-2022, photo editor Kennedy Weatherby expanded her photojournalism role. In addition to capturing stellar images, she also often could be found executing the posts for the sports coverage team. In that capacity, she quickly selected the top photos from the team of photographers covering a game, designed a cover graphic and posted the gallery to provide MacJ followers score updates while the game was still underway.

The fall of 2021 marked the start of my senior year of high school. Senior year means a lot of things to a lot of different people, but for me, senior year meant finishing strong and saying goodbye. As a photojournalist, that meant saying goodbye to the school that made you fall in love with journalism and finishing strong, making sure to leave a mark on McCallum. 

I began my senior year trying to ignore the inevitable leaving by going to every sporting event, which at the time was volleyball and football, that I could. I was also serving as photo editor for my school’s newspaper, which allowed me to help and guide the younger staff members on their journey in becoming photographers. At volleyball games, I continued to take photographs and find new angles to photograph from, even capturing some of my favorite images I have taken so far. But starting at football games, I began to serve the coverage team in a new way. Not as a photographer but as a sort of social media manager, or someone who posted updates on the game. This allowed all the other younger photographers a chance to take incredible images that, sometimes literally, took my breath away while I got to look at every single one of them and choose their very best ones to put out into the world. While I was certainly not used to not being behind the camera, I think taking on a new job in the coverage team helped me improve my ability to work under pressure and my visual deductive skills as a photographer, which are both very important skills to have as a photojournalist. 

Senior Grace Werkenthin spikes the ball in the Knights’ 3-1 loss to the Anderson Trojans at Don Caldwell Gymnasium. The loss was Mac’s first district setback. The Knights are now in third just behind Anderson and Ann Richards and will face the Trojans again on Oct. 8 at Anderson High School. (Kennedy Weatherby)

Now, just because I stepped down as a head photographer for some events does not mean I didn’t jump on the opportunity to take photos at one of the most extraordinary events to happen all year, the LBJ Fire Academy’s Fire Skill Day. student firefighters who have been training for months get together at a spot just outside of town to help put out a fire. Before this year, I had never really known the exact date or time this took place so I never got the chance to go. But luckily this year, a family friend happened to be participating in it and she told us exactly when to get there. Not only was it amazing to photograph but it was incredibly cool to watch kids my age put out a fire. I was standing 50 yards away and could still feel the heat, I couldn’t imagine the heat the students felt when they were a mere five feet away from the flames. That night I took some of the best photos of my entire carrier, one of them even being featured at a photo exhibition at Webster University. That night taught me many things, but mostly to never be afraid of fire or the dark, especially as a photographer. 

Senior Michael Valentino participated in the LBJ Fire Academy’s live fire skill day that was held on Sep. 25. After a full year of learning about fires, extinguishers, equipment and how to use it, Valentino and the three other seniors a part of the academy put out their first live fires. “It was so cool,” Valentino said. “I ended up doing the nozzle, which is the first person in line, which was super cool, I really wanted to do that.” Caption and photo by Kennedy Weatherby.

One of the hardest things a person can do is say goodbye to the things and people they love. My journey as a photographer can all be traced back to the love I had for the sport of basketball. The lightning-fast speed of the game and the mesmerizing moves the players make back and forth across the court, it was the sport that inspired me to start taking photos during my freshman year. Fast forward three years later and I was about to say goodbye to what sparked my love for what I was going to study in college. At the start of the season, I wanted to go to every game myself, just as I had last year during COVID. But it quickly became clear that I wasn’t going to be able to do that. I was busier than I ever had been before and I needed someone else to step in and take my place. Luckily for me, a girl one year belongs to me on the newspaper staff stepped up to the challenge. Not only was she an amazing photographer but she was also an amazing friend. She was fun to chat with at the games I could still make it to and she made my time there much more enjoyable. Getting to share this last basketball season with her made me realize that it’s ok to let go and say goodbye. I’m going to miss covering basketball and going to all the games so much that I’m tearing up as I write this, but I know that I’m leaving it in good hands and I’m so proud to have been a part of the basketball coverage team at McCallum.

HOME COURT VICTORY (Jan. 11): The boys varsity basketball team won against the Travis Rebels last night at home court. The boys started out strong in the first quarter on both sides of the court, scoring 18 points on the offensive and allowing zero shots in from Travis on the defensive. The rest of the game went much like the first quarter, and Mac won the game with a final score of 66-21. As part of their impressive offense, two players, junior guard David Houston (shown here) and senior forward Nate Davidson, dunked during the game. “That was the first time I’ve ever dunked in an actual game,” Davidson said. “It was great and energizing feeling, and it was a great win. We played as a team well and we’re excited to go into our next game.” Photo by Kennedy Weatherby.

Basketball wasn’t the last sport I covered this year. With a shortage of photographers in the late spring and my brother dragging me to all of his track meets anyways, I decided one day to bring my camera along with me. I was able to get some amazing photos of my brother and his friends, and a bit later in the year was offered an amazing opportunity. Every year at the University of Texas at Austin they hold a track event called the Texas Relays. Being from Austin, my school sends people regularly, and they often send photographers along with them. I was one of those lucky photographers this year. Getting to take pictures at Mike Myers Stadium down at UT, which just happens to be where I’ll be attending college next year, was surreal. It showed me glimpse into my future and I am grateful that I got that opportunity to be there.

Senior Elle MacRae has seen a huge jump in her times from a year ago. With an almost full second shaved off her personal record in the 100 meters, currently sitting at 13.87, and a team-leading PR of 28.11 in the 200 meters, she has become a critical player in the 4×200-meter relay that advanced to the area meet this year. While her high school track career ended there, the huge improvements she made and her ability to go from being a strong cross-country runner to being an even better short-distance runner will long be celebrated. (Kennedy Weatherby)

The last event I covered as a MacJournalism student was the Blue Brigade Spring Show, our drill teams end of year performance. One of the traditions of the spring show is for every senior on the team to get a speech and solo performance, kind of as a last goodbye to their fellow team members. I remember there was one particular speech that stood out to me and it was by one of my best friends, Annabel, whom I’ve known since the sixth grade. I remember having tears slowly roll down my face as I heard her say goodbyes to her friends on the team and specifically her dad, who also happened to be my journalism advisor. I realized then and there that this was one of the last chances to make a difference as a MacJournalism photographer. I gave it my all that night and I certainly believe it paid off. That night was a good one to go out on.

FIVE-STAR CAPTAIN: In “One Night Only,” the opening number of the spring show on Saturday night, Blue Brigade captain Charli Cevallos is front and center setting the mood and tempo for the number and entire show. Cevallos said the opening number of the spring show is always upbeat and fun and this year’s edition was no exception. Cevallos said she remembers the moment as one of pure adrenaline. “Since opener is the first dance, the excitement is running high and it’s such a great feeling to be performing our hard work for an audience.” As the photo suggests, the team was able to perform the number in sync even though it was a new dance choreographed exclusively for the spring show by first lieutenant Annabel Winter (left) and senior lieutenant Emily Garza. “Opener was our first spring show dance we learned,” Cevallos said, “and it came together super well. … [It was] definitely a team favorite.” Cevallos said her favorite part of the number was the very beginning when Winter (left) woke her up stage left from a deep sleep to start the show. “It’s so fun,” she said, “and the audience loved it.” For the first time in three years, that audience was in the MAC and at full capacity without pandemic restrictions. Photo by Kennedy Weatherby.
I already miss McCallum more than I thought I would, and no matter how far I get as a photojournalist, I will always remember McCallum as my starting point. My origin story.