ST. PETERSBURG, FL – Judges today in NPPA’s Best Of Photojournalism 2007 competition picked winners in two top categories: Photojournalist of the Year (Small Markets), and Cliff Edom’s “New America Award.”
Mary F. Calvert of The Washington Times is the Photojournalist of the Year (Small Markets), and Sarah L. Voisin of The Washington Post won the award named after one of her favorite former University of Missouri professors and mentors.
Matt Roth of Patuxent Publishing Co. was second place in the Photojournalist of the Year (Small Markets) category, and Kyle Green of The Roanoke Times was third.
The Photojournalist of the Year (Large Markets) will be named on Friday, the last day of Still Photography division judging.
NPPA's Best Of Photojournalism 2007 competition is sponsored again this year by Canon and Avid, and the judging is hosted by The Poynter Institute for Media Studies at St. Petersburg.
“I’m completely thrilled,” Calvert said today when she learned about the judges’ decision. “I’m a long-time NPPA member, and I couldn’t be more proud of being a member of this organization. I looked at the Web site today, and I’ve seen what kind of work is out there and what’s winning, and they are amazing photographers. I’m happy to be a part of this group.”
Calvert said her portfolio this year was different than her work in previous contests. “I got to do a story this year that really mattered to me ["Trail Of Tears," women who suffer from obstetric fistula in sub-Saharan Africa]. And anything that helps them get more recognition of the problem and attention is great. It means so much to me that my winning portfolio had this story in it this year.”
A former student of photojournalist Ken Kobre’s at San Francisco State University, where she graduated in 1989 with a B.A. in journalism with a photojournalism emphasis, Calvert worked in the Bay Area at the Hayward Daily Review and the Oakland Tribune before joining The Washington Times in June, 1998.
“She was my most favorite intern when I was director of photography at The Fayetteville (NC) Observer,” 1978 NPPA president Ken Cooke said after today’s contest news. “I think she was in her second year at San Francisco State, and she put together a portfolio from that summer’s work that would have gotten her a job at most daily newspapers.”
“On the first assignment I sent her out on, an Air Force plane crashed within 50 yards of where she was standing. I told her earlier that she needed the longest lens she could pull from the locker; actually, she only needed a 24mm. She nailed it.”
Judge James Colton said, “We wound up with only three finalists” in this category. “We were hoping there would be more submissions in this category. The first place winner does have a series of very strong single pictures, and a collection of three picture stories, two of which were very strong. The combination of a couple of strong picture stories and excellent singles made this our first place selection.”
“The message the judges are trying to send out to the small market newspapers is to please enter more submissions. I’m sure there’s a lot of good work that we didn’t see. This is an opportunity for photographers and newspapers to have a chance to be recognized,” Colton said.
Voisin won Cliff Edom’s “New America Award” for her photographic essay on Hispanic immigration issues and the living conditions along America’s border with Mexico. The Edom Award recognizes excellence in photographic storytelling about rural or ethnically diverse people. It honors the contributions made to photojournalism by Clifton C. Edom (1907-1991), a University of Missouri School of Journalism professor, who co-founded the Missouri Photographic Workshop with his wife, Vilia, in 1949. “In urban communities and rural towns, the spirit of diversity is celebrated and witnessed in everyday life,” the criteria for the Edom Award says. “Our goal is to recognize award winning photographic storytelling about communities, groups, and issues in America that are often under-covered in the press.”
Voisin is a graduate of Hampshire College and studied journalism in graduate school at the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism. That led to a newspaper internship in El Salvador, then later she moved to Washington, DC, to document the Salvadorian community and began freelancing for The Washington Post. Voisin joined the newspaper’s staff in 1999.
“This award in particular means a lot to me as a University of Missouri journalism graduate,” Voisin said today. “When I was a student there I met Cliff and was part of his Missouri Photojournalism Workshop work for several years, as a lab tech coordinator, a teaching assistant. And everything Cliff stood for is really important to me. I got to meet Vilia and his daughter, Vme, the whole family, and I taught at her “Truth With A Camera” workshop a couple of years. So this is quite an honor.”
Voisin has been interested in Latin American studies since high school, when she studied spanish, and since graduate school and her El Salvador internship. “The Latin American people and their culture is what kept me coming back,” she says. “And this year, with all the issues about immigration, this is the most passionate topic for me." Voisin worked on the essay for about six months, but that time period also incuded shooting unrelated general assignments.
“The winning entry answered the questions, ‘Why this? Why Now?’ And it is relevant,” judge Naomi Halperin said. “This is a story about the border, and individuals going from one side to the other, and how horrible or joyful that experience can be. It spoke volumes about a particular community.”
“This entry exemplified the photojournalist as being a gatekeeper, in the sense of fulfilling the role as a storyteller of issues in their community,” judge Bebeto Matthews said, “to visually tell the stories of a society and bring to light the struggles and joys of the community. The photographer did an excellent job of covering many aspects of this community.”
In the Best Published Picture Story (Large Markets) category, first place is Joe Amon of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Second place is Andrea Bruce of The Washington Post, and third place is Jim Gehrz of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. An honorable mention was awarded to Pauline Lubens of the San Jose Mercury News.
“All of these award-winning entries put us ‘in’ with the subjects, and gave us a sense of how the subjects felt,” judge Steve Gonzales said. “First place is a story about a young woman who dies of AIDS. She’s an AIDS orphan. The powerful photography is troubling, and sometimes haunting, with gut wrenching pain.”
“Second place is a beautifully photographed, strong story about soldiers coming home from war and their adjustment to daily life,” judge Kathleen Hennessy said. “This is a collective look at the experience of a group of soldiers. It is intimate, revealing, and you get a strong sense of what it means to be a part of company, or a team, and that after returning home you can only relate to each other. The story is brilliantly done.”
“Third place is a strong story, shaped in a classic storytelling style and presented in black-and-white (as where the other winners),” Matthews said. “This story does a good job of raising awareness about the issues involved with kidney disease.”
In the Best Published Picture Story (Smaller Markets) category, first place is Preston Gannaway of The Concord Monitor. Second place is Jed Conklin of The Spokesman-Review, and third place is Megan Lovett of The Beaufort Gazette. An honorable mention was awarded to Andreas Fuhrmann of the Record Searchlight.
“The first place winner had poignant moments … there were a couple of holes in the storytelling process, specifically towards the end,” Halperin said. “Second place was a story we hadn’t seen before, about the lost children. There are children who cannot be adopted and they are living for years at a time in a home, where it’s probably one of the few places where they get love and support. It is a nice story.”
“It was nice to see another side of the military, females in the military,” Hennessy said about the third place picture story. “The photographs gave the viewer insight to Boot Camp that many haven’t seen before. The photographer used different lenses to get close and far away.”
Judges in the Best Of Photojournalism 2007 Still Photography division this year are Bebeto Matthews, a staff photojournalist for the Associated Press in New York; Steve Gonzales, director of photography for the Houston Chronicle; James Colton, a photography editor for Sports Illustrated; Naomi Halperin, director of photography for The Morning Call in Allentown, PA; and Kathleen Hennessy, deputy director of photography for the San Francisco Chronicle.
Web division judging is also conducted at Poynter and is coordinated by chair Keith W. Jenkins, the photography editor for The Washington Post. This years Web division judges are Andrew DeVigal, a multimedia editor for The New York Times; Regina McCombs of The Star Tribune in Minneapolis, MN; Josh Meltzer, a photojournalist for The Roanoke Times who was the 2005 Best Of Photojournalism Photojournalist of the Year for Smaller Markets; Richard Hernandez, a photojournalist for the San Jose Mercury News; and Heather Powazek Champ from Flickr.
Judging in Still Photography and Web Site categories has been going on all week at The Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg, and will wrap up on Friday with the announcement of the top photo awards.
Judging in the Picture Editing categories will begin next week at Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication (VisCom) in Athens, OH, coordinated by VisCom director Terry Eiler and photojournalism instructor Stan Alost.
In addition to Canon and Avid, NPPA’s Best Of Photojournalism 2007 competition is also sponsored by The Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg, FL; Hesketh.com; Ibiblio.org; Camera Bits; Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication; Think Tank Photo; and MerlinOne.
For more information or to ask questions please eMail Best Of Photojournalism 2007 contest coordinator Thomas Kenniff, who is at the judging, at email@example.com.