12.03.13 - House Keeping

I am so bad at keeping my tears.

Those of you who know me know I I have a touch of the goofball. I enjoy being the backseat heckler.

This may come as a surprise, but I am an introvert. And I think this actually carries over to the fact that I don't keep track of my published work for a brag file.

But there comes a time when one has to justify their existence, like applying for credentials to major international events, and you must prove you are not there to get free passes (there is no such thing), hobnob with celebrities (who cares), undercut the official photographer (I am an OP on occasion, so, do unto other as they would do unto you) or when your memory starts to go and you don't know what you have done with your life.

Tonight I started grabbing the few files I have saved over the years, and man do I have SO much more to get through.


06.23.11 - International News

Crazy week here in West Chester. Perhaps you've seen some of the coverage of the "Jackass" star Ryan Dunn's fiery death. Well, I've been covering it since about 10am Monday morning. His memorial service yesterday was attended by fellow cast members, celebrities, friends, family and media.

Here is a slideshow of some of the websites I've come across today with my photos picked up from the AP wire. (No money for me, as the paper is a member.) Though other images from the week can be found at both Polaris Images and Zuma Press.




After doing this for nearly 20 years there are fewer and fewer new situations I find myself covering. But I got a good one this week. Adults being turned into human ice cream sundaes. What a great reward for the students at the Chesterbook Academy for their reading accomplishments! I still remember my kindergarten teacher riding the bike we gave her for her retirement up and down the school hallway. I'm sure this will be a fond memory for a few of this generation.


03.13.11 - UP ALL NIGHT

As a kid I always wanted to stay up late. I had a babysitter who would let me watch TV with her until my parents pulled in the driveway. I would then run to bed and pretend to be asleep.

These days I like my sleep. I do tend to be a bit of a night owl, bed is sometime between 12 and 1. So Thursday into Friday morning I was just drifting off when my scanner pulled my eyelids back open. I was still laying down for the original shooting dispatch, I was sitting up when I heard the severity and I was headed down the stairs when it became clear that it was police involved. Turned out the officers shot at the car and occupents who had drove at them.

I spent the next four hours at the scene, was home at 5, let the dog out, showered, ate and went into the office to get the photos on the paper's site. I napped for 30 minutes or so on the couch in the lobby, and then was back out at it again.



One of the first signs of spring in the Philadelphia region is the annual Flower Show that is a Mecca for any gardener, home decorator or nesting enthusiast. I haven't been down for it in years, but with my new role at the paper concentrating on digital media, I am looking for stories to tell in photos and video. So the opportunity to get some of our local participants setting up on the last day was a fun first project. One of the problems going during setup is that none of the stage lights are one, so the impact of the displays is not at their peak. This is a hand-held HDR. (Not so bad, if I do say so myself.)


As far as I am concerned, this is the greatest display this year. I like all the manicured, impeccable designs, but those are so put of reach for me. This installation from Delaware Valley College uses wooden shipping crates, the shell of a 1960s East German car, a bath tub and wire framing for the raised beds, water feature and planters. I am so inspired I will be searching for wooden crates from now on!


And finally, the slide show I made for the paper.

02.17.11 - PROOF OF LIFE

This is for everyone who was concerned that I was off to meet some random woman I met on FaceBook with a Clumber, this is proof that I have made it home unscathed. Brody and I had a wonderful evening meeting Christy, her husband Allen and their dogs Bella, Cooper and Jimmy.

Christy is actually the person who first "friended" me on FB after I fanned one of the Clumber pages. She put me in touch with Laura who ended up fostering Brody, and meeting me in a Cracker Barrel parking lot in Elizabethtown, KY to do the hand-off.

More about this all later. I am pooped. But here are a couple pics of Jimmy to tide you over!


02.10.11 - KEEPING UP

Like every year before, two of my resolutions this year were quickly broken. One was to blog everyday, and one was an iPhone photo a day. Why iPhone, because it is quick, it is (nearly) always near me, there are so many fun manipulations at your finger tips and the easy of uploading directly from the phone makes it fun.

And it actually takes pretty damn good photos!

This image, straight from the camera is 5.12x6.8 at 300dpi!


This image with a tilt shift app is 5.49MBs, which is a 4x5 at 300dpi.


And this using my favorite app, Hipstamatic, has its own Facebook page, Flickr set and Damon Winters of the NYTimes just took 3rd place in the POYi with a photo story he shot using the app! This file is a 5.12x5.12 at 300 dpi.


And since I started with Brody on the couch, I will end with the image from this morning with inspired the blog post.


02.08.11 - WHIRLWIND

Wow, what a crazy 24 hours since being named the winner of the Alltech/IAEJ A+ award winner! So many wonderful notes from colleagues, international requests for the image, and celebrating (virtually) with the winners of the other categories. One request was to see the other images from this set-up.


2010 WEG SJ Reacts - Images by Amy Dragoo


Just a little background, we were not allowed to place any remote cameras in the ring (a practice that has become common place at major competitions) so in a moment of brilliance that I can only believe think I intercepted from someone else's brain cells, it occurred to me to place my remote under the trainer's platform. The last fence of the class, the first round of the Nations Cup, was a big oxer on a long distance from an airy combination (if memory serves.) It proved to be a heart breaker for quite a number of riders/teams all day.

In the morning session I watched group after group on the platform "ride" the course, gyrate and react with each clear jump and error. Some time in the middle of the morning it just hit me, and then I believe I hit my dear friend Sue Stickle in the arm! I had to get permission from out Photo Chief David Porter at lunch for the camera placement, which he had no issue with as it was off the "field of play," below the edge of the platform and hidden in some decorative shrubbery and thus out of the way of the almighty television cameras. My biggest concern was that someone would fall off and damage the equipment/injure themselves.

The howling from me and my fellow photographers as I did my first run through the card of images will be one of my favorite memories of WEG. By the fifth of October, the day this was shot, most of us had been shooting for 1.5 weeks with only a few hours of sleep per night. Tempers were getting short, dark circles were appearing under eyes, and many of us swore we would not be eating a cheeseurger again for a very long time. This evening of editing sent me on the search for some crazy music to set the slide show to, but the laughter, tears and side stitches from our little corner of the tent were the best sound of all.

The fun thing (and many times most frustrating) about the remote is not knowing what you have. So many things can go wrong, and most do all at once. You don't focus well, your exposure is wrong (and shooting into the sky makes that something you have to take into account), your remote doesn't fire because you have forgotten to turn the camera or the remote on, you are on the wrong channel, or the radio signal is blocked by some unforeseen force. You can never make your remote the entree, it always must be the icing on the cake you don't know if you will have room for at the end of the meal. I got lucky on all counts. I will say the reactions the first half of the day were a bit stronger because the riders figured out the striding by the afternoon and the stronger riders went later in the day. But I am my biggest critic, and I always know it could have been a little bit better.

I will admit, I never thought this image had a chance in the contest. There isn't a horse included and the venue/signage doesn't jump out as a dominant portion. But it just screamed to me!



Alltech Recognizes Post-Games Alltech ‘A+’ Award Recipients [Lexington, KY] –Alltech, American Horse Publications (AHP), and the International Alliance of Equestrian Journalists (IAEJ) are delighted to announce the recipients of the Alltech ‘A+’ Award, established to honor creativity, passion, and excellence in equine journalism with stories connected to the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. The post-Games media contest, judging entries published between July 2, 2010 and January 3, 2011, was open to the members of both AHP and IAEJ.

The winners of the post-Games Alltech A+ Award are:

Amy Dragoo, IAEJ – Photo ‘Last Fence Down’ published on www.equisearch.com
Karen Briggs, IAEJ – Article ‘WEG Report Card’ published in L’Annee Hippique
Brian Sosby, AHP – Article ‘Amazing Days’ published in Equestrian Magazine
Coree Reuter, AHP – Photo ‘Kiss’ published in The Chronicle of Horse
Alex Cutadean, AHP – Video ‘Behind the Scenes at the WEG On-Site Veterinary Clinic’ published on www.thehorse.com

“Throughout the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, I’d watch media sprinting from venue to venue, loaded down by the weight of cameras, recorders, and notepads,” said Dr. Pearse Lyons, president and founder of Alltech. “Driven by passion for the horse and their craft, they worked tirelessly, from sunrise to sunset and even beyond, to deliver the story of the Alltech FEI Games to eager fans around the world. These awards are but a small token of our great admiration and appreciation.”

“We would like to thank Alltech for its generous support of these awards and its international recognition of the contribution to the sport of the equestrian media,” said Chris Stafford, IAEJ vice-president. “These awards enhance the status of the International Alliance of Equestrian Journalists in their universal and comprehensive coverage of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.”

“American Horse Publications has rewarded excellence in equine publishing media for over 35 years. We are thrilled that Alltech partnered with AHP and IAEJ to bring recognition to equine journalists at a premier international event such as the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games,” stated Chris Brune, AHP executive director. “We are very appreciative of the support given by Alltech to showcase the talents of our members as well as to promote equestrian sports to the world.”

Award recipients will be honored at major events this spring. Details will be coordinated with the winners.

Thank you to Alltech, IAEJ, AHP, the World Equestrian Games and most of all Equisearch for the platform for my work and the recognition!!!


I remember thinking this in fourth grade when we had to type,  EXACTLY, a huge amount of code to make something happen on the classroom green terminal. In my case it was to be a "dancing" snowman with "falling" * snowflakes. If you have ever seen my un-edited typing you will know how well this went. And thus my proclamation that I would never have a job that involves computers.

Flash forward a year or two and you will find me with literal seconds counting off the clock to game time of cross-town rivals which we have advertised will be live streaming on the paper's website. I am using a computer that belongs to the advertising department, have a wireless card that has no service, the school's wi-fi has USTREAM blocked for ADULT CONTENT. And the kid who hated computers finds a way at, what would have been the last second if it hadn't been senior night and the clock stopped for recognition of them all.

Here is the game, which is quite the nail biter!

Video streaming by Ustream


It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but there was no intent to make my own version of Eddie Adams' Pulitzer Prize winning image 'General Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a Viet Cong prisoner in Saigon.' But when I found these two upon download, I immediately thought of the famous shot.

Some might be surprised that I didn't know I had it on scene, but I don't spend much time chimping. And this particular set of children soon decided I was a good target for the snowball fight. The next pitch from this hooligan got me sqaure in the cheek. At this point I headed off to see what else there was to find, and didn't give this moment any thought for the rest of the day.

It actually wasn't until the next day that I got to see this. The card reader I have been using at the office has been having problems, and corrupts the second file on the card. It then requires 12 hours of Lexar Image Rescue to save the files. Needless to say that card reader is now in the junk drawer.

It could be a bit better. I whish I had focused on the victim instead of the perpetrator, but such is life. Tomorrow is another day.



One of our daily duties on the newspaper photo staff is to find "stand alone art," images that don't go with a story, but depict life in the county. With the push for on-line content, this requirement is now for video features as well. This is a bit of a challenge when the weather hits the extemes, but there is always something to be found.

I have always found that I can talk with anyone when I am photographing, and see photos when I am interviewing. I find the later to be true with video as well. I got a bit lucky today with the one quote.


I, along with a huge stable of other photographers, do work for West Chester University (my alma mater, Class of '94, Go Rams!). This is second year I have covered the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. brunch and awards for the school. Each year they honor someone with "Drum Major for Justice" award. The title Drum Major for Justice is taken from one of Dr. King’s sermons, which he gave the same year he was assassinated.

 This year it was awarded to Ronn Jenkins, a 1965 graduate of West Chester State College who had been aggressively recruited for his academic achievements and excellent diving skills. He went on to earn his master's degree from Bucknell University and his doctoral degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

 Beyond his professional attributes, Jenkins has excelled in the sport of diving. He has been nationally recognized, serving on the NCAA Swimming and Diving Committee, the National YMCA Swimming and Diving Committee and as chair of the United States Diving Committee on Diversity. In 1995 he was named the NCAA Diving Officials Coordinator for the Diving World Cup and he served in the same role at the Olympic Games in Beijing. In 2009, he was inducted into the WCU Athletic Hall of Fame.

Jenkins' illustrious career has cast him as a legendary diving coach in the Greater Philadelphia region who mentored and tutored numerous All-American and championship divers from diverse backgrounds both at WCU and through the many private lessons he gave. Equally notable, he has coached the men’s and women’s diving teams as a volunteer for more than 38 years, continuing to do so even now as a retiree.

I cover so many tragic, negative and angry events as a daily photographer. I admit, there is a rush in the uncertain and the challenge. Perhaps it is just me getting old and soft, but I love the human element more and more. I respect those who are unassuming and lacking in bravado. In a world where so many coaches scream and gesticulate and throw things and become the focal point (not so much in swimming and diving I know), I found myself thinking how his grace and quiet charm must contribute to his success. Everybody has a story, and I am so pleased to have had the chance to document the recognition of his.



One of my winter chores is to get images into my searchable database that have fallen through the cracks or been placed on the "to do" list. Some of those I discovered today when looking for images of the stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park from the World Equestrian Games last fall. During the 17 days of shooting I nearly filled a TB drive with images. I can't imagine how I would not be done editing. :} (In my defense I did come right back to PA and go straight back to the paper.) So in my search for requested images that I knew I had but couldn't find in the database, I discovered I hadn't edited the files from the first two days prior to the games starting. Including stitching the panoramics together. (If I remember correctly I have a few more to do, I just have to keep going through the files. 092410wegpano1b 092410wegpano2b 092410wegpano3b 092710wegpano1b

01.11.11 - Binary Day Humor

Timing is every thing. It is the art of capturing the peak of action (or the agony of defeat) that makes a sports photo pop. Be it a horse over a jump, a receiver and a ball, a fist and a face. The awkward non-peak times are moments that just are not traditionally considered "pretty."

That being said, awkward can equal funny. There is something about the moment of the ball mashed on the floor that makes me chuckle. My timing is usually so that I don't capture this moment, so to do it (nearly) so many times in one game stood out.


12.17.10 Contest Entry

I haven't entered images in any contest in years. I am very particular about my images, and I find it a daunting task to sort through a year's worth of work. I start every year promising that i will have a working folder of potential images for entries, but I never make it beyond the first quarter of the year (if that).

I made one stab at an entry this fall, and was rewarded with a 2nd place in the NPPA monthly clip contest for Septemeber in the Sports category.

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AK Dragoo Photography

Image • Imaging • Imagination

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