Aug. 6, 2021 - NPPA is excited to announce that A.J. Chavar has been selected as the new chair of the Best of Photojournalism competition. Chavar, a cinematographer, photographer, director and producer, comes to the role after two years as Chair of BOP’s Online Video, Presentation and Innovation division and previously serving as a final-round judge for the contest.
Chavar is taking over for previous BOP Chair Dudley Brooks, who chose to step away after a successful year of shepherding BOP through impactful category revisions and the launch of a beautiful new website.
“Congrats and much success to A.J. Chavar as our new Best of Photojournalism chairman. I’m certain that he’ll take this contest and all of its components to even higher heights. I can’t wait to see what he does,” said Brooks. You can find a note of farewell from him below.
“I am incredibly grateful for Dudley’s willingness to lend us his talent and renowned expertise, which guided us through a time of transition and rebirth,” said NPPA President Katie Schoolov. “Now I’m beyond excited to see where Chavar’s enthusiasm will take it, infused with his deep knowledge of the contest and expertise across multiple divisions.”
Chavar is currently a Production Technologist for The New York Times Research and Development team, exploring emerging journalism technologies. He has coached at the Syracuse Fall Workshop for longer than a decade, and his work has also been recognized by NPPA BOP, POYi, WHNPA, and the Emmys.
“I am excited to continue working with BOP in a larger role and very grateful for all the work the prior contest and division chairs have done to make BOP more equitable, accessible, and representative of NPPA’s membership,” said Chavar. “I’m looking forward to continuing that work. BOP is a contest, but more importantly, it’s a celebration of the high-water marks left by the best visual journalism in the world. I’m honored to celebrate that work with the whole NPPA membership.”
Chavar first joined NPPA in 2012 and has also served as secretary of the White House News Photographers Association. He began his career as a Carnegie-Knight News21 fellow documenting the lasting effects of war on veterans and families at home in rural America. Following that, as a field video journalist for The Washington Post he received an Edward R. Murrow award for his work reporting on the shooting of congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. As The New York Times' dedicated Washington, D.C. video journalist, he was part of the team that filmed the newspaper's first ever video interview with a sitting President, Barack Obama, and went on to film several more exclusive interviews with the POTUS. He has worked at Vox.com as a senior producer, helped develop visual guidelines with the editorial team at Apple News, and worked as a freelance director, cinematographer, and photographer.
NPPA would like to thank SONY for their sponsorship of BOP, the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications for serving as the contest’s home, and Seth Gitner for his many hours volunteering to build the new BOP site. We look forward to an exciting contest this year across all divisions. If you have input on categories or other suggestions about the contest, please email [email protected].
It took a few years during the early stage of my career before I personalized the actual value of entering photo contests. I found that packaging my portfolio at the end of a year forced me to reassess the images that I produced during the calendar year. The tedious process of re-editing hundreds of singles and numerous picture stories – all in the quest of finding a resonate combination of photographs - helped me to continuously strengthen the work that I went on to produce.
It wasn’t just about impressing a panel of jurors, the primary regard for me was to sharpen my own journalistic vision - while providing a nuanced stream of poignant content to the readers that I served.
Entering the Best of Photojournalism contest and matching yourself up against others in the industry can be a fruitful process to help you do what you do even better. But in reality, everyone has their own reasons for why they choose to participate in any competition or not. This year, our BOP organizing team kept all of these points in mind to make your overall experience with us even more useful to your progress.
I’ve written before that the monumental events of 2020 were pivotal and they confronted our profession with some particular challenges. Think about the magnitude of what you faced last year – and in some measures are continuing to do. You had your own health risks to consider, limited access to subject matter, logistical challenges, a social upheaval to consider, isolation and proximity issues, work slow-downs or no work at all. Nothing will be as it was before and the winning photographs you produced within the thick of these changes are true markers in time. Go to bop.nppa.org to see for yourself.
I decided to pass the torch on as Best of Photojournalism Chairman, so consequently there’s new leadership for the 2022 contest. Thanks to everyone who supported me and our collaborative efforts through this very special run. Specific thanks to the Best of Photojournalism contest division chairs, the leadership of the National Press Photographers Association, the University of Georgia, the invaluable help of Seth Gitner of Syracuse University, and our major sponsor SONY.
I hope that you continue to use the Best of Photojournalism and NPPA as valuable tools to assist your own professional development and goals.
Dudley M. Brooks