RCBC alum gets his thrills shooting roller coasters
Tuesday, Jun 18, 2024

Somewhat peculiarly, Rowan College at Burlington County alum Jason Pennypacker, 20, can attribute the start of his marketing career to the imprudent actions of his teenage self. 

Pennypacker was scrolling through Instagram in 2019 when he noticed the posts from a local boardwalk park lacked quality. Just an upstart photographer with a small Instagram following and a passion for rides, he boldly decided to reach out to the boardwalk with his criticisms. Instead of ignoring the messages of a high schooler, however, the business got back to him, asking what they could do to improve. Eventually, they hired him to shoot on one of their roller coasters, and with barely any equipment and a camera he could hardly use, Pennypacker set off. 

The rest is history.

Now, Pennypacker is the proud owner of Accelerated Creative, a marketing company that aims to produce the highest-quality content for amusement parks, no matter the budget. Actually, the company recently changed its name from New Jersey Coasters because rides aren’t the only subjects he shoots; live theater productions, railroads, and weddings are also in play.

Did he ever think he’d be pursuing something like this?

“Never in my wildest dreams,” said Pennypacker.

Years ago, he didn’t even like roller coasters. If not for one fateful day at the amusement park and a little fatherly goading, he might not have journeyed down the path he’s on now. 

“I was given a season pass by a friend to Six Flags, and I went there on their opening day,” said Pennypacker. “My father told me that if I didn’t get over my fear of roller coasters, he would never bring me back, and the passes would be useless. So I contemplated for two hours, and I finally rode something. Then I rode Nitro for the first time and kind of fell in love with rides.”

No loop or turn is too daunting for Pennypacker when shooting. He utilizes an array of equipment, including drones, regular cameras with a broad spectrum of lenses ranging in focal length from 17 millimeters to 500, GoPros, and equipment commonly used in Hollywood to mount cameras on cars to get the best shots. 

Each ride poses new challenges, and he has some personal favorites whose entertainment value and owner’s conviviality leave him eager to work on them again. Pennypacker has shot the coaster GaleForce in Ocean City, New Jersey, at least a dozen times and has even included it in his company’s new logo.

Surprised about the viability of a passion like this? Don’t be. 

“I normally have to explain that this isn’t just some foreign concept, that a lot of people do this, and that the industry is humongous,” Pennypacker said. “We have a whole convention every year in Orlando dedicated to the amusement industry. There are multiple safety boards. Most people just think, oh, it’s just an amusement park. It’s just roller coasters. There’s nothing much to it. But the industry is humongous, and there’s, like, over 7,000 roller coasters around the world.”

Even as he traverses the vast, literal roller coaster ride that is his career, Pennypacker is still a student. He participated in RCBC’s commencement ceremony in May, where he received his associate degree. In the fall, he will head off to Rowan University to major in Business Administration as he participates in RCBC’s 3+1 program. Not new to the marketing world, however, Pennypacker has some advice for his peers, and anyone would agree it’s a much more agreeable mode to success than how he jump-started his career.

“Start small and learn a camera. Pick a brand that you like and pick it up. Just go out anywhere and shoot, learn, watch YouTube videos, watch tutorials, watch lens reviews, and figure out a look for what you want your photos to be,” Pennypacker said. “Don’t go in expecting to know everything about a camera. You need to learn the system. Stick to that system.”