By Jenn Fields
COLUMBIA, MO – As the four judges gathered around thumbnail images of five portfolios, 20 college photographers closed in on them like paparazzi.
The sound of their shutters nearly drowned out the hushed discussion of the judges. But the judges weren’t debating the winning portfolio for the 60th College Photographer of the Year – their silence made the winner obvious. Second and third place were still up for grabs; the debate was over the singles, stories, and subjects in the other four portfolios.
Chris Detrick, a 22-year-old Missouri graduate, held his breath in the middle of the melee of cameras. His portfolio was one of the remaining four.
The judges chose second, then third, then an honorable mention. Detrick’s was the last one left: honorable mention, the judges said.
Detrick exhaled. “Jesus Christ,” he muttered in relief under his breath.
It was over. After viewing more than 3,000 images, the judges had chosen the 60th College Photographer of the Year. RitaReed, the director of the competition hosted by the Missouri School of Journalism, called up the winner and turned on the speakerphone so the audience could hear him.
“Is this Casey Templeton?” Reed asked the voice on the other end.
“Yes, this is Casey,” Templeton said.
Reed asked him to guess who had won the 60th CPOY. Templeton couldn’t believe he was it!
“I think I’m going to wake up and be pissed,” he said.
Templeton, 22 (at right, in self portrait), an NPPA member since 2003 and a member of Sportsshooter.com, is a senior at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., majoring in media arts and design. The school does not have a photojournalism program, but Templeton says he doesn’t regret going to JMU.
“It motivates me to go out and do my own work,” he said.
Scott Strazzante, a CPOY judge and photojournalist for the Chicago Tribune, who has been an NPPA member since 1987, said the judges were looking for a photographer with a strong vision who is comfortable with documentary style and lighter photo essays. He cited the versatility of the winning portfolio.
“It comes down to style, very strong style,” Strazzante said. “They definitely have something to say about the world.”
As the winner of the portfolio competition, Templeton will receive a digital SLR from Nikon, a 14-week internship at National Geographic magazine and a $1,000 scholarship from the National Press Photographers Foundation. National Geographic and Nikon both returned to CPOY as sponsors this year. In addition to awarding cameras to the top three portfolios, Nikon also provided an educational grant that covered students’ entry fees for the contest.
The runner-up CPOY winning Silver in Portfolio is Yoon Byun of Ohio University in Athens, OH, and Justin Cook of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill won Bronze in Portfolio. Benjamin Sklar of the University of Texas won Gold in Spot News, Katie Falkenberg of Ohio University won Gold in General News, and Matt Eich of Ohio University won Gold in Feature.
Jason Hunter of the Brooks Institute of Photography won Gold for Sports Action, and Chris Bergin of Ball State University won Gold for Sports Feature. Chris Detrick of the University of Missouri won Gold for Sports Portfolio.
Byun won Gold for Portrait, and Matt Mallams of the Brooks Institute of Photography won Gold for Pictorial. Allison Lazard of Ohio University won Gold for Illustration, and Ramsay De Give of the Brooks Intstitute of Photography won Gold for Personal Vision. Byun also won Gold for Domestic Picture Story, and Samkit Shah of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill won Gold for International Picture Story. And Javier Manzano of the Brooks Institute for Photography won Gold for Documentary.
Cliff and Vi Edom founded the competition in 1945. The annual contest is sponsored by the University of Missouri, Nikon, National Geographic magazine, the National Press Photographers Foundation, The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, and the Missouri Photo Workshop. UM administers the contest with the help of Kappa Alpha Mu. NPPF administers the Colonel William J. Lookadoo and the Milton Freier Memorial Awards in conjunction with the contest.
In addition to Strazzante, the other CPOY judges were Manny Crisostomo, a senior photographer at the Sacramento Bee; Judy Siviglia, formerly with the Raleigh News & Observer; and Mary Vignoles, the deputy director of photography at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
A profile of Casey Templeton, as well as a story about the CPOY judging, both by Jenn Fields, will appear in the January 2006 issue of News Photographer magazine.