ST. PETERSBURG, FL –A panel of judges today picked the Sports Photojournalist of the Year and winners in six other Still Photography categories in the National Press Photographers Association’s Best Of Photojournalism 2007 competition.
Getty Images swept the top three spots in the Sports Photojournalist of the Year category. First place was awarded to Donald Miralle, Jr., second place to Adam Pretty, and third place to Al Bello. Honorable mentions were given to freelancer John Gress, shooting for Reuters, and Bill Frakes, of Sports Illustrated.
When it came time to judge the Sports Photojournalist of the Year category, judge James Colton of Sports Illustrated recused himself. He was replaced on the panel by Best Of Photojournalism contest committee member and Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Deanne Fitzmaurice of The San Francisco Chronicle.
Fitzmaurice said Miralle's portfolio was "a unanimous selection by the judges. It’s really powerful. Every image is clean, has impact, and is graphic. It captures the excitement of sports photography.” Second place “was strong, but lacked the diversity of first place. It has good style and the photographer displayed his vision.” Regarding third place, she said, “This entry had a very nice picture story which had already been given and award in an earlier category. The strength of the picture story earned this photographer third place.”
Judges also picked winners today in the Still Photograhy categories of Sports Picture Story, Celebrity Picture Story, Natural Habitat, Domestic News, Serial Portrait Package, and The Art Of Entertainment. The results and the judges' comments are below.
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 will take place 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: the Photojournalists of the Year (for Large and Small Markets), the Sports Portfolio of the Year winner, and the winner of Cliff Edom’s “New America Award.”
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 the Sports Picture Story category the judges picked Al Bello of Getty Images for first place, Chang Lee of The New York Times for second place, and Bob Rosato of Sports Illustrated for third place. Honorable mention was given to Marc Lester of the Anchorage Daily News.
“The first place cock fighting story [in Sports Picture Story] was a complete storytelling entry,” Halperin said. “It was well edited, with no redundant images and it had a beginning, middle, and end to it.” And the second place essay “Is a lesson in culture, and it was beautifully shot.” Of second place Hennessy said, “Nice perspective. It had emotion. I really felt for what these young kids are going through.” Halperin’s comment on third place was, “This story was also well done. It was important to tell the story of not just the struggle to get back to football, but to get back to normal life in New Orleans.”
In the Celebrity Picture Story category, first place is Dave Yoder of Atlas Press/Fairchild Publications. Second place is Pete Souza of the Chicago Tribune, and third place is freelancer Josh Merwin. Honorable mention was awarded to Diana Walker of Time magazine.
About the Celebrity Picture Story category, Halperin said the first place-winning photographer “took ‘Fashion Week’ and turned it into something intimate. The pictures are not glamorous; they’re real. This photographer had access and made the most of it, and made it work.” As for second place, “Of all the [Barak]Obama pictures the judges have seen, these have the most heart. And this is what separated this Obama story from the other stories the judges have seen.”
Colton said the third place-winning story is “a story that we rarely see. I hate to say this, but we don’t see stories about National Basketball Association (NBA) players with their children. There are so many horror stories about NBA players having children out of wedlock all over the country. This story is an example of a player who actually cares and when through the process of birthing. It was not executed as well as it could have been, but there is a great story within this story. It’s nice to see an attempt at a story that is counter intuitive to what we would expect.”
In the Natural Habitat category, first place is Matthew Ratajczak of The Stuart News, of the Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers. Second place is David L. Ryan of The Boston Globe, and third place is Rick Loomis of the Los Angeles Times. An honorable mention was given to Kimberly Grabosky.
“Food for the soul,” is how Halperin described entries in the Natural Habitat category. Colton said, “This is strong category, and the three winning entries were graphic with strong composition. Each photograph has a little bit of something extra about them, which is really cool. Like the surf coming in the first place picture, the small bird in the second place picture with the graphic content of the canoes, and the branches that are forming the lines in the third place picture. All of these pictures have great elements in them, in addition to the graphic elements.”
In the Domestic News category, first place is Brian Hill of The Daily Herald. Second place is Rick Hartford of the Hartford Courant, and third place is Jerry Larson of the Waco Tribune Herald. Honorable mentions were awarded to Rich-Joseph Facun of The Virginian-Pilot, and Michael Penn of Juneau Empire.
The top picture in the Domestic News captured both beauty and horror, the judges said. It is an image of a drowned child being carried by an emergency room worker, and it was a unanimous first place selection by the panel.
“If a picture is worth a thousand words, the winner in this category speaks a thousand words with this photograph,” Matthews said. “It’s a reverent picture capturing of the death of a child.” Colton said, “It’s very unusual that you can capture both beauty and horror in the same frame, and this picture is horrifically beautiful. It’s one of those pictures that will remain with me for a long time.”
In the Serial Portrait Package category, first place is Farah Nosh of Getty Images for The New York Times. Second place is freelancer Anderson Schneider, shooting for World Picture Network, and third place is freelancer Melanie Blanding. Honorable mentions were awarded to Michael Bryant of the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Daniel Berehulak of Getty Images.
The Serial Portrait Package category is new to the contest this year. The rules say that the category “recognizes the time-honored tradition of portraiture as a vital mode of storytelling. The unifying theme musts be held together by a narrative thread, consistent photographic style, and/or compelling environment with an obvious connection between the individuals being documented.”
“We started out uncertain of where this category was going until a few photographers came up with some brilliant representation of what this category is all about,” Matthews said. “They demonstrated how portraits had it‚s own power and feel to capture probably as eloquently as any form of journalism we do.”
“The Serial Portrait first place-winner, photos of Iraqi amputees injured by the United States military, is simple, straightforward, and just beautiful photography,” Matthews said. Colton remarked, “What we see in this entry is the other side of the Iraq war, civilians in Iraq and how they are also suffering. Bringing light to another issue from this horrible war that’s going on is worth applauding. I think the photographer who did this series of portraits did that well.”
The Serial Portrait second place-winner is about a leper colony in Brazil, “A unique presentation that dignified the individuals in a powerful manner of style and photography,” Matthews said.
The Art Of Entertainment category was the last category of the day for judges on Monday, and first place was awarded to David Moir of Reuters. Second place is Lance Murphey of The Commercial Appeal, and third place is Brooklyn freelancer Julia Xanthos, shooting for the New York Daily News. An honorable mention was awarded to Shmuel Thaler of the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
The Art of Entertainment category was a challenge for the judging panel, and drew the only critical comments from Monday’s categories. Speaking on behalf of the entire panel, Hennessy said “We found this category very weak and difficult to judge. We were surprised that there weren’t more images entered here. We selected pictures for their form, composition, and quality of light. There wasn’t a lot of emotional attachment to anything. First place was chosen because it was the most elegant.”
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 protected].