ST. PETERSBURG, FL – On the fifth day of the 2006 National Press Photographers Association’s Best Of Photojournalism contest, the still photography judges on Thursday named the two Photojournalists of the Year.
David Guttenfelder of the Associated Press is the Photojournalist of the Year (Over 115,000 circulation). A native of Waukee, IA, he's traveled the world for the Associated Press and he's now AP's Chief Asia Photographer based in New Delhi, India. (The Guttenfelder photograph above is of people in the old city of Delhi celebrating Holi, the Hindu festival of colors.)
Josh Meltzer of The Roanoke Times is the Photojournalist of the Year (Under 115,000 circulation). Meltzer, who also worked in Duluth, MN, has been an NPPA member since 1992.
Second place in the Photojournalist of the Year (Over 115,000 circulation) category was Smiley Pool of The Dallas Morning News, and Third place was freelancer Massimo Mastrorillo. Honorable Mentions were awarded to Andrea Bruce of The Washington Post; James Nachtwey of VII Picture Agency, on assignment for Time; and Simon C. Roberts of NB Pictures.
Second place in the Photojournalist of the Year (Under 115,000 circulation) category was David Ahntholz of the Naples Daily News, an NPPA member since 1994, and Third was Jed Conklin of The Spokesman-Review, an NPPA member since 2001. Honorable Mentions were awarded to Jason Arthurs, freelance for The Winston-Salem Journal; Kyle Green, of The Roanoke Times; and Lexey Swall, of the Naples Daily News (all NPPA members).
Guttenfelder, 37, (seen above on assignment in Baghdad in 2004) is a graduate of the University of Iowa with a BA in Cultural Anthropology. Included in the foreign assignments he's done for the wire service are several stints covering the war in Iraq. For AP he's been based in Nairobi, Kenya; Abidjan, Ivory Coast; and Tokyo, Japan. He's covered stories in the former Rwanda, North Korea, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Israel and the Palestinian territories, as well as Iraq.
“This is an extraordinary photographer,” judge Ruth Fremson of The New York Times said after the panel picked Guttenfelder’s portfolio for First place. “There is a beautiful eye, someone who can handle any kind of news situation, including a helicopter crashing practically at his feet. This photographer has a wonderful sense of color and composition. There is a narrative thread through all the stories. This portfolio has everything you would ask for in a single image and a photo story.”
"This is a fitting recognition of David's excellent photographic work for the AP over the last year," AP director of photography Santiago Lyon said today in New York. "He has produced a quality and textured series of images, with his compelling news, feature, and sports photos from around Asia continuing to help make AP the essential global news agency. David is an excellent, well-rounded professional and a first-rate team player and I heartily congratulate him on this award."
About the Second place portfolio by Smiley Pool of The Dallas Morning News, judge Jim Colton of Sports Illustrated said, “The photographs included in the Katrina story are tremendous. The single photographs are clean and very powerful.” Fremson said, “There is incredible work displayed in this portfolio.”
Massimo Mastrorillo’s Third place portfolio drew praise from judge Ramiro Fernandez of People magazine. “This portfolio contains very strong work. About the Auswich story: Yes, we have seen some images similar to these before. However, there are some images in this story that I have not seen before. The editing and cropping of the photographs is outstanding.”
Josh Meltzer, 32, who grew up in Athens, GA, has been with The Roanoke Times since 1999. Before that he shot for the Duluth News Tribune in Duluth, MN, for four years after graduating from Carleton College in Northfield, MN.
"I felt good about my portfolio this year, I was very proud of a story we did on a group of refugees that we worked on for about nine months. That's the piece I'm the most proud of," Meltzer said today when he learned that he won the title. "But there's also a single picture of a high school student with cancer, Andrew Gillespie (in photo above), and it was a great story because his Roanoke Catholic High School classmates all shaved their heads to match him so that they'd all look the same for the Senior prom. I took this picture of him with his classmates, of their heads surrounding him, and the Associated Press ran the picture all over the world. He had been pretty down at that point, he was right in the middle of his chemotherapy and not doing that well, and because of the picture he got lots of phone calls from all over the world, from Germany and Alaska. His parents later told me how much that helped him out at the time, how much it meant to him."
Gillespie has since had a leg amputated above the knee and he's trying to get a "high tech" leg like the ones that are used by soldiers coming home injured from Iraq. Meltzer and the newspaper have been following the young man's progress with additional stories.
"Like any photographer, this is the kind of thing that makes me happy about my work during the year: when the readers are happy with it, I'm happy with it. It's the most gratifying thing by far, and I still keep in touch with him (Gillespie)," Meltzer said.
“We saw some of these photographs when we were doing our initial look at this category," judge Fremson said about Meltzer's photographs. "We were familiar with the work and we liked the point of view of the photographer. It’s a nice tight presentation. This portfolio shows diversity, nice photography and good storytelling."
JudgeColton said, "I was surprised, I would never have thought that the same photographer photographed the two stories in this portfolio. There are two very different approaches to different things that require different tools. This portfolio showed a versatility which I think all portfolios should."
Yesterday photojournalist Vincent Winter was awarded a prestigious honor, Cliff Edom's "New America Award," for his documentary examination of Utica, NY, a city in the aftermath of an economic crash that was revived by an influx of refugees from more than 30 countries who turned the town into their new American homestead.
Other stilll photography categories judged on Thursday were the Best Published Picture Story category for Large and Small markets, while Web Site judges picked winners in the category of Multimedia Package.
OTHER STILL PHOTOGRAPHY RESULTS
In the Best Published Picture Story (Over 115,000 circulation) category, First place was Todd Heisler of the Rocky Mountain News for "Final Salute" (above, one of the essay's single images). Second place was Gerard Rancinan of Polaris on assignment for Time, and Third place was Francine Orr of the Los Angeles Times. Honorable Mentions were awarded to Tomasz Gudzowaty from Fotoagentur Focus, and Yoray Liberman from Getty Images.
This year's still photography judges are: Ramiro Fernandez, photography editor for People magazine; Christine McNeal, deputy managing editor for design, graphics, and photography for The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Ricardo Ferro, director of photography for EFE America; Ruth Fremson, a staff photojournalist for The New York Times; and James Colton, photography editor for Sports Illustrated magazine.
Commenting on the Best Published Picture Story (Over 115,000 circulation) category, the judges said: "The First place winner ("Final Salute' by Todd Heisler) just jumped off the screen," Colton said. "It’s an incredible collection of heart wrenching images, each which grabs the viewer by the heart. The coffin being placed into the commercial plane as people look at the proceedings through the plane windows is an amazing image, both in its sense of content, composition, graphics and color ... there is nothing more you could ask for from an image. This one is going to linger in my mind for long long time. One word: remarkable!”
About the Second place winner, portraits of Hiroshima victims (above), Colton said, “I think the photographer did and excellent job capturing a feeling. They are compelling portraits done in an unique and individual style." Fernandez said, "I liked the human testimonial style of the photos. To me this goes beyond just strict portraiture and surface quality of the photos. You linger on the subject and read the body landscape along with the overall facial expression and you can get a lot."
McNeal said of the Third place story on refugees in Uganda, "This is a very strong story and has great perspective. It lets you see what’s happening to these kids." Ferro said, "The story starts with a haunting, gut wrenching photograph of a bundled up child. The photos take you through the process to showing you what they are suffering through."
In the Best Published Picture Story (Under 115,000 circulation) category, First place was David Ahntholz of the Naples Daily News. Second place was Dior Azcuy of the Lincoln Journal Star, and Third place was Paul Zoeller of the Odessa American. An Honorable Mention was awarded to Ronald W. Erdrich of The Abilene Reporter-News.
Judges' comments on the winners in the Best Published Picture Story (Under 115,000 circulation) category included: "This First place winner is a really nice slice of life (the Johns family in Florida)," McNeal said. Fremson said, "I get a good sense of the personality of the people in this story." Speaking of the Second place story about Afghan teachers visiting in America, Colton said, “The photographer did a very good job of submitting eight very strong photographs that had eight different stories. The establishing photo and the portrait were strong." About the Third place winner, an essay about a boy with no legs, McNeal said, "There is such a sense of dignity for him that the photographer did a good job of relaying in the photographs. Many of the disability stories you see are depressing, but there are a lot of nice moments in this story."
The judges concluded the 2006 National Press Photographers Association’s Best Of Photojournalism contest, the competition's fifth year, by congratulating all the photographers who entered the contest on the great work they've done in the past year.
WEB SITE RESULTS
In today’s Web Site contest results, judges picked finalists and winners in the Best Use of the Web and Multimedia Package categories today.
First place in the Multimedia Package (Larger Sites) category was RockyMountainNews.com for "Final Salute." Second place was LATimes.com for "MS-13 Gang," and Third place was NationalGeographic.com for "Who Rules The Forest." An Honorable Mention was awarded to USAToday.com for "Participants in the Past."
First place in the Multimedia Package (Small Sites) category was InsideBayArea.com for "Little by Little." Second palce was SpokesmanReview.com for "Video Journal," and Third place was Roanoke.com for "Going Down The Crooked Road."
First place in the Multimedia Package (Unaffiliated Sites) category was Lelen B. Robert and Kim Grinfeder presenting the photographs of Brenda Ann Kenneally for "The Block: Money, Power, Respect," and Second place was Robert and Grinfeder again for Kenneally's "Big Trigg." Third place was MediaStorm for "Friends for Life."
First place for Best Use of the Web was awarded to Lelen B. Robert and Kim Grinfeder presenting the photographs of Brenda Ann Kenneallyfor "The Block: Money, Power, Respect" (above).
About the First place winner in the Multimedia Package (Larger Sites) category, judge Deanne Fitzmaurice said, “‘Final Salute” was a unanimous First place for all of us. We were strongly moved by this piece. First of all, we commend the photographer, writer, and editors for their belief and commitment to telling a story about the war that we have not previously seen. There is a real immediacy of emotion for us being there when the family hears the news about their loved ones. The photography is outstanding. Images such as the opening photo of the casket in the airplane is an unforgettable picture that will always stay with us. It feels like it will become the iconic image from the Iraq war. The judges all think this level of photography and storytelling, combined with strong design and ease of navigation, is the bar we all should strive to reach in this new world of multimedia. It was photographed and edited with compassion and respect for the subject. Audio enhanced the experience of viewing the photos, adding another wonderful layer of information to this story. The judges felt credit should have been given to the designers and interactive producers who did a tremendous amount of work, along with the photographer and writer, to make compelling piece of multimedia storytelling.”
“Many of the comments about the First place winner apply to Second place as well,” Fitzmaurice said. “The access and trust that the photographer gained is to be strongly commended. The quality and style of the photography is superb. The informative audio and video added to the understanding of the story, but the judges thought the overall piece fell a bit short in usability and design compared with the first place winner.”
About Third place, Fitzmaurice said, “This multimedia piece has a nice flow, combining very strong, tightly edited photography along with the photographer's narrative. The audio helps with the understanding of the story and makes for a successful multimedia presentation. We would like to have heard more natural sound mixed in, however. Usability problems like there being no indication of the length of each section and no scrubber to advance through each section, got annoying."
This year's Web Site judges were: Margarita Corporan, a senior photography editor for America Online; Andrew DeVigal, an assistant professor at San Francisco State University and co-principal of Devigal Design; 2005 Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Deanne Fitzmaurice, a staff photojournalist for the San Francisco Chronicle; and Juan Thomassie, a senior designer for USAToday.com.
NPPA's Best Of Photojournalism contest is sponsored by Canon, Avid, The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, Hesketh.com, Ibiblio.org, Western Kentucky University, Camera Bits, Ohio University, and Merlin One.
Read an earlier story about the judges and the contest here.
Read about Sunday's winners here.
Read about Monday's winners in nine categories here.
Read a story about Tuesday's Web and Still Photography winners here.
Read about the winner of Cliff Edom's "New America Award" here.