FSU English major Emma Moody captures the stories she wants to tell in words and images

By Claudia Craig

Emma Moody has traveled the world, working with people of different ages, creeds, genders, and races. These experiences have opened her eyes to the plights of people living in other countries and allowed Moody to embrace the people and the world that surrounds her.

Despite living in multiple countries, one of her favorite places remains the Florida State University campus during golden hour.

At the end of a long day, when things slow down and the crowds of people going to class shrink in numbers, Moody strolls through campus impressed by the scenery surrounding her.

“The buildings turn to gold—it’s incredible.” Moody says. “Things get quiet, and you start to appreciate how beautiful this campus is."

Moody is an FSU senior, and she is enrolled in the Honors College and majoring in both English (with a focus in editing, writing and media) and media studies. She is currently the campus editor for the FSView & Florida Flambeau, but her interest in journalism started before college. When Moody was in high school, her mother gifted her a hand-me-down camera. This was a practical gift, one she brought on weekend trips, vacations, and anywhere else that suited her.

After Moody graduated from high school, she took a gap year and spent nine months traveling and doing service work. Over those months, Moody recorded her travels by keeping a blog and posting the photographs that she took on that same camera.

One of her most memorable works centered on the sex tourism industry in the Philippines. During her year of travel, Moody spent three months in the country, working with women and girls there who were trapped in the sex tourism industry.

“It opened my eyes to how much I loved to write and share peoples’ stories, whether that be through words or photos,” Moody says.  “I knew that when I came to college, I wanted to continue.”

And so she did. For the ENC 2135 course she took her first year, Moody chose to write her research paper, “Dear John,” on her first-hand experiences with a nonprofit called Wipe Every Tear (WET). WET provides women with safe houses, medical care, education, and a “way out” of the sex industry.

Moody quickly realized how deeply rooted this problem is for women. FSU doctoral student in literature, media, and culture Keegan Cooper encouraged Moody to continue developing her research paper outside of class.

Moody included photos from her travels as well as quotes from her blog posts in the paper.

“When I came to college and was assigned this research paper, I knew that was what I wanted to write about,” Moody says. “I just didn't know I had it in me.”

“Dear John” was a direct reflection of Moody’s time in the Philippines and her efforts to combat the effects of the sex tourism industry that she witnessed.  Moody described her work as heartbreaking, but more importantly, as life changing. The research and resulting paper gave her an outlet to share others’ stories in the best way she knew how.

Cooper pushed Moody toward her best work, and helped her apply for different awards throughout the semester.

“She is such an intelligent and talented person,” Cooper says. “I mentored Emma through her writing process during my ENC 2135 course. Her research paper from that course went on to win the first-place prize for the James M. McCrimmon Award for Outstanding College Composition.

“I nominated her paper because of how it pushes the boundaries of the research paper genre more than other student research papers I’ve read.”

Another of Moody's noteworthy projects is from summer 2019, when she studied abroad in Florence, Italy. One of her professors in Florence knew she loved photography and gave her free reign to develop stories around her photos.

The story that Moody remembers most fondly spotlights the Duomo, the cathedral named in honor of Santa Maria del Fiore. The Duomo is one of, if not the most famous landmarks in Florence. Millions of tourists flood there each year to both visit and photograph the cathedral.

However, it can be easy to only photograph the building from head on. Moody tested out multiple ways she could capture the iconography of the building.

"I woke up at 4 one morning and went to bed at 2 a.m. that night,” Moody says. “I spent the day running around the Duomo, around Florence, even up into the hills just looking for different ways to photograph it. I think I walked 15 miles that day."

Moody’s work shared a new perspective on the beloved building of Florence. Her photos, taken at different times and angles—even of the same subject—each tell distinctive stories.

She brings this same understanding to her position with FSView. Moody’s day-to-day working for the student-run newspaper is always different—one of her favorite facets of her role as campus editor. One of her goals is to find stories that best represent campus life and multiple voices, and she has both written and edited many stories, growing along the way.

“In regards to writing, practice doesn't make perfect, necessarily, but it does help—a lot,” Moody says, adding that writing is a muscle she has had to develop, but one that has become stronger throughout her time at FSU.

Moody says her future after graduation is still up in the air, but she has done what she can as an undergraduate to put herself on the track for success.

For now, she is spending her final year at FSU, studying for the GRE, writing, editing, and photographing for FSView. And enjoying her walks through campus during golden hour.

Claudia Craig is a senior studying editing, writing & media with minors in communication and biological science.