Top Photos of 2019

A regular day for EMU video and photography manager Macson McGuigan could take him from the Hill at sunrise into classrooms across campus to the turf field for an evening match.

But this EMU grad’s favorite setting is trekking off campus with students as they explore the natural wonders of the Shenandoah Valley. 

“Students canoeing at Switzer Lake, hiking to the fire tower at the top of Va. 33, and learning about invasive species at Big Meadows … those opportunities happen in beautiful environments and sometimes I even get to join in the hike or go for a spin in a canoe myself,” he said.

McGuigan summarizes photography as the challenge of assessing and ultilizing light sources to your advantage. But there’s also physical challenges, like “making sure you’re in the right place at the right time.”

If you’d like to view the top photos of 2019, follow this link. Otherwise, read on to learn more about McGuigan’s work at EMU.

On daily work

The breadth of what I photograph at EMU is very diverse.  While there are inevitably some run-of-the-mill assignments like headshots or speakers at podiums, I also cover various exciting aspects of the student experience from move-in day to commencement.  In my time at EMU I have also crawled through caves and waded through streams with science classes; I have photographed from low angles that require me to lay on the ground and I have photographed from overhead with the quadcopter; I have visited students at internship sites from Pennsylvania to Washington D.C.; I have photographed by the light of campfires on “the hill” and at trivia nights in Common Grounds.  Beyond student life, I also photograph events and alumni for news articles and stage shoots for marketing materials.

Curating this collection

Each photo had to be technically strong with sharp focus and optimal exposure. I also wanted to show, to some degree, the breadth of our campus community in the photos I curated.

“The most important criteria though was that each photo must be special is some way beyond the basic technical components…  Some photos I chose because they tell a story like in the “all hair types welcome” photo. Other photos I chose because they depict a moment of pure joy like in the lantern lighting photo.  Others I chose because they freeze a moment that happens too quickly for our eyes to stop and appreciate like the one of the student mid-leap between boulders. I liked the photo of students dancing in the Hall of Nations, because of how the image smears time with the blur of the dancers and the subtle streaking of lights. And finally, I chose photos with eye-catching pops of color like the rainbow that I photographed with the drone or the red spring leaves that were a nice complementary color to the blue sky overhead.

View the Top Photos of 2019


It is pretty hard to pick an absolute favorite from this set of photos, but two of my favorites have to be the groups of students walking across the front lawn to class. The autumn leaves make for a colorful composition and they are rocking their EMU apparel so that is definitely a bonus!

Two more favorites

I love photographing landscapes and wildlife.  I really enjoy going on an early morning adventure to photograph an epic sunrise, wading into a stream with my tripod to take long-exposure, or watching the behavior of wildlife waiting to capture a special moment. 

Here’s one of my favorites of the 2019 Perseids meteor shower taken at Pea Island, North Carolina.

Here’s a portrait of a Green Heron at the water’s edge in Baja California, Mexico.