Always think one step ahead
Dani Malakoff's love for photography started at age 13 when her dad asked her to take pictures at her sister’s softball game. That passion for photography hasn’t waned, and it played a large role in Malakoff’s decision to attend KU. At KU, Malakoff, 21, discovered a love for videography. She has worked as a director at Media Crossroads and as a video and production intern for KU Hillel, the Jewish student organization. She’s also a crew member for the KU Athletic Department’s Rock Chalk Video, where, among other things, she has helped produce the videos that appear on the video board at Allen Fieldhouse.
In high school I took a photography class, and the yearbook advisor taught it. I loved that class and did well, and she was like “Hey, apply for yearbook and you can take pictures like all the time.” And I was like, “Heck yes, I’m down.” So I took pictures, and I learned how to write and how to do journalism. I knew that was what I wanted to do as a career.
I’m proud that I went out-of-state to college. Before college, I had never been away from my parents or family members for more than a week. I was very attached to my family. I’m proud that I was able to not only make my decision to come to college out-of-state, but to stick with it through freshman year. It was tougher than I could have imagined. I love KU, and I love everything here.
When I first arrived on campus, my goal for the next four years was to be a photographer on the Kansan. That happened second semester of freshman year, but then video kicked off. I just wanted to do sports and figure out how to make a career in sports. Obviously, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into or what I would do. But I knew it would be around sports.
The best part about video is when I get to show people a video and they get to react in some way. Not saying I want to make people cry, but if my video gets them emotional, then I’ve done my job. That makes me happy. There was this one time where we did kiss cam, and we shined it on a middle-aged couple, and they kissed. The woman went crazy. She was obviously joking, but it was like the funniest moment ever. Showing that to 16,300 people in Allen Fieldhouse, then hearing their reactions, hearing them laugh, hearing them clap, gives me warm fuzzies.
I eventually want to come back and work for Rock Chalk Video as a full-timer. I just want to continue to tell athletes' stories. I’m always in admiration of athletes that do things I can’t even fathom doing.
One of the bigger lessons is 80 percent of what you do is just showing up. I think that really helped me in college because when I first came freshman year, I didn’t know anybody. I knew I just had to show up to things. One Sunday, I showed up to the little fair they have at the J-School during Hawk Week, and that got me on the track to video. Just to think that if I would have never shown up to that student lawn thing freshman year, who knows where I would be now.
Evan Riggs is a senior majoring in journalism and minoring in history from Garden City, Kansas. He has worked in the sports department for The University Daily Kansan and the Lawrence Journal-World. He hopes to pursue a career in sports journalism after graduating in May 2017.