ATHENS, Georgia – The National Press Photographers Association’s highest honor, the Joseph A. Sprague Memorial Award, will be presented in 2017 to two individuals for their commitment to the craft of visual journalism and to education that advances the profession.
Michael Williamson, a staff photographer at The Washington Post, is a Sprague honoree who epitomized these standards. His professional awards include two Pulitzer Prizes and numerous photographer of the year recognitions through competitions put on by the NPPA as well as by Pictures of the Year International and the White House News Photographers Association. He also has a rare gift in the way he sees the world and has been generous sharing his vision and inspiring others through countless workshops and presentations.
Ken Kobre, a retired professor of photojournalism at San Francisco State University, is the other Sprague honoree. He is the author of “Photojournalism: The Professionals’ Approach,” now in its seventh edition. It has been the textbook for countless college students who were in their beginning stages of developing their understanding of the profession. He is also known for a new book, “Videojournalism: Multimedia Storytelling,” as well as innovations in other areas, such as Lightscoop and the VideoPro Camera app.Established in 1949, the Sprague Award is NPPA's most prestigious honor. It recognizes individuals who advance and elevate photojournalism by their conduct, initiative, leadership and skill, or for unusual service or achievement beneficial to photojournalism and technological advances. It honors Joseph A. Sprague, a press technical representative for the Graflex Corp. who is credited with designing the Big Bertha, Magic Eye and Combat Camera for the company as well as dozens of improvements and refinements to the original Graflex Speed Graphic 4x5 camera, once the press industry standard.
The Sprague Awards, along with NPPA’s other top honors, will be presented during a ceremony at NPPA’s Northern Short Course in Fairfax, Virginia., at the beginning of March.
In addition to the Sprague Awards, NPPA’s other top honors and annual recognitions were announced.
Lisa Berglund, owner of Gold Dog Media, won the Clifton Edom Award. She is the first and only woman to win the NPPA’s TV Photographer of the Year award. She is also known for her consistent commitment to give back to the photojournalism community. The Edom Award recognizes an individual in the tradition of University of Missouri photojournalism professor Cliff Edom to inspire and motivate members of the photojournalism community to new heights.
John Thain won the Joseph Costa Award. His tireless efforts have brought the NPPA TV Quarterly contest to our members, and the number of entrants and entries has grown every year under his leadership. He navigated the challenges of transitioning to the new NPPA competition website to provide the best experience for our TV entrants, including creation of a TVQCC Facebook group. The Joseph Costa Award is named after NPPA’s founder and given for outstanding initiative, leadership and service in advancing the goals of NPPA in Costa’s tradition.
Donald R. Winslow won the Jim Gordon Editor of the Year Award. Following in the footsteps of Gordon himself as editor of News Photographer Magazine, Winslow continued to produce the magazine with the same high standards and quality pioneered by Jim and raised the magazine to another level, with its dynamic display of tremendous photojournalism, insightful interviews, profiles and issues of the day. The Jim Gordon Editor of the Year Award honors an outstanding editor in newspapers, magazines, video, movies, the web, books or other publications who supports and promotes strong photojournalism, best use of photography, and whose dedication and efforts have moved photojournalism’s standards forward. It is named after Gordon, NPPA’s News Photographer magazine editor for 25 years until he retired in 2003.
John Larson took the John Durniak Mentor Award for his generosity in helping others achieve their goals — both in the broad sense of how he volunteers at countless workshops as an editor and coach, and on a much more personal level, offering advice and assistance on special projects of individual visual storytellers. The Durniak Award is given to an outstanding photojournalism mentor. Durniak was executive editor of Popular Photography magazine, a picture editor at Time magazine and The New York Times, and the managing editor of Look. During his career, he nurtured some of the most prominent photojournalists of the 20th century.
Bethany Swain, a lecturer at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, has won the Robin F. Garland Educator Award for her dedication to her students, who praise the breadth of professional knowledge she has shared. And it’s not just a technical perspective, but also real “inside” advice and guidance about developing and maintaining relationships, both within the newsroom and with their subjects. She also has excelled in starting and advising Maryland’s active and engaged NPPA student chapter, composed primarily of students with a focus on broadcast photojournalism. The Garland Award is given for outstanding service as a photojournalism educator. Garland was a picture editor and war correspondent for the Saturday Evening Post until he joined Graflex Inc. as press technical representative after World War II. Later he became a press photography product specialist for Eastman Kodak Co.
DJI Technology Inc. is awarded the J. Winton Lemen Fellowship Award. DJI has been instrumental in developing products that visual journalists rely upon for news gathering, training our members and others in the safe use of sUAS (small unmanned aircraft systems), also known as drones. The Lemen Award is given in recognition of outstanding technical achievement supporting and advancing the best interests of the visual journalism community. Lemen was a charter member of the NPPA. In 1952, after a distinguished career as a news photographer at the Rocky Mountain News, Pittsburgh Press and Buffalo Times, he established the photo press markets division of the Eastman Kodak Co. and served as the firm's liaison with news photographers.
Gabriel Green, an independent journalist, has won the NPPA Humanitarian Award for his work in Greece, where he documented the refugee crisis. He stayed there for almost a year, continuing to document the refugees and also volunteering with nongovernmental organizations to help those refugees. In one instance, his efforts resulted in the rescue of refugees whose boat had capsized.
The Alicia Calzada First Amendment Award goes to Chuck Tobin, Joel Roberson and Christine Walz of the Holland & Knight law firm. The award recognize recognizes the work the three, and their firm, have done on sUAS issues, often representing the the NPPA on a pro bono basis. Their advocacy for the legal use of drones for news gathering is appreciated and respected. The award recognizes those who have worked to promote and advance the First Amendment, especially as it relates to news photographers. It is named after NPPA past President Alicia Wagner Calzada, founder and longtime chair of NPPA's Advocacy Committee, who is now an attorney specializing in media law.
Anne Herbst, a photojournalist at KUSA in Denver, is the winner of the Morris Berman Citation. Through tireless work, she resurrected the Women in Photojournalism Conference. Through her commitment, she revived a conference that benefited all members of the visual storytelling community, with a focus on diversity in the voices of the presenters. The Berman Citation is given to individuals or organizations for special contributions that have advanced the interests of photojournalism.
The Kenneth P. McLaughlin Award of Merit goes to Carolyn Hall. As NPPA treasurer, she left her comfort zone and immersed herself in all aspects of the NPPA’s financial realities. She tackled the intricacies of the organization’s budget at a critical time. The McLaughlin Award is given to those who have rendered ongoing and outstanding service in the interests of news photography. McLaughlin, a photographer for the San Francisco Chronicle until his death in 1966, was third president of the NPPA.
Phil Greer is the winner of the Bert Williams Award for his work at papers large and small throughout Illinois. He was director of photography at the Chicago Tribune and continues to serve the industry as an educator at Southern Illinois University. The Burt Williams Award is in memory of one of NPPA’s founders and its first national secretary. It is given to a news photographer with at least 40 years of service to the industry.
The John Long Ethics Award is given to Fred Ritchin, dean of the International Center of Photography School. John Long himself spoke of Ritchin's book “In Our Own Image” as a major influence on his understanding of the ethics of digital manipulation even before the NPPA established the formal position of ethics chair. His work helped inform how we approached ethics for the NPPA during the next quarter of a century.
The Outstanding Student Chapter Award goes to the Howard University NPPA Student Chapter. Even though the chapter is in its first year, it has been extremely active and engaged, launching its own Pictures of the Year competition, hosting Geekfest and participating in regional and national photojournalism events.
NPPA Special Citations have been awarded to Jake May and Matt Gade. For May, the award recognizes his tireless efforts covering the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, with empathy and insight. He also is recognized for his leadership with the Michigan Press Photographers Association, his position as NPPA Regional chair and the many workshops in which he has participated. Gade is recognized for his tireless efforts as the NPPA’s Central Region clip chair and the timeliness with which he handles those responsibilities, including his diligence in communicating results with members and posting them to NPPA’s contest website.