NPPA’s top honors and annual recognitions also announced
Chris Post is awarded the Joseph Costa Award. The Costa Award is named after NPPA’s founder and given for outstanding initiative, leadership, and service in advancing the goals of NPPA in Costa’s tradition. Post, a photojournalist at WFMZ-TV in Allentown, Pa., is recognized for outstanding dedication to advancing safety and security interests in 2020 — a particularly challenging year with a pandemic, protests, and targeted violence against journalists. Post shared information and techniques — on social media, in webinars, and via consulting — to keep his colleagues near and far safer from harm.
Post, who leads NPPA’s Safety and Security Committee, has extensive prior experience in public safety: emergency medical services (EMS) certified since 1995, a disaster communications specialist with FEMA’s Urban Search and Rescue’s Pennsylvania 1 task force, and is a Hostile Environment and First Aid Training (HEFAT) trainer.
“I’m glad that I’m able to contribute back,” says Post. “I survived in public safety because I had the best training. If I can help visual journalists have longer careers and survive, it’s all worth it.”
Kyndell Harkness is awarded the Jim Gordon Editor of the Year Award, given to an editor that supports and promotes strong photojournalism, best use of photography, and whose individual dedication and efforts have moved photojournalism's standards forward while advancing the best interests of all photographers. This award celebrates the leadership, ethics and advocacy dimensions of editing.
Harkness joined the Star-Tribune in Minneapolis in 2000 as a photographer, and became a photo editor in 2015. Harkness has been an instructor at AAJA’s JCamp for 16 years and served two years as photo editing chair for NPPA’s Best of Photojournalism contest. The Star-Tribune photo staff was not even three months into pandemic coverage and “work from home” before George Floyd was killed by police, sparking massive, widespread protests.
“In the nights of chaos in the aftermath of Floyd’s death, Harkness was a guiding light for our newsroom and our photo staff,” said one nominator of Harkness.
“My presence in our meetings made people think about our coverage differently,” Harkness says. “It was probably the first time I brought my full self to those meetings. As a journalist of color with more than 20 years in the business, I have become accustomed to making myself smaller. This time was different, and those journalists at the meetings were receptive.”
Harkness was promoted to Assistant Managing Editor of Diversity and Community in October 2020, and earlier in March earned honors in the Best of Photojournalism contest as Newspaper Editor of the Year: Individual (Above 100,000 Circulation).
John Sharify is awarded the Clifton Edom Award. The Edom Award recognizes an individual in the tradition of University of Missouri photojournalism professor Cliff Edom to inspire and motivate members of the photojournalism community to reach new heights. When Sharify was told that he’d been given this honor, he said: “That’s so great! I just got off the phone with [a reporter] after giving her feedback for an hour and a half.” Typical John Sharify.
Local news has a few legends, and whenever you see Sharify at an NPPA event, there’s a line of people waiting to talk to him — because he’s one of those legends, and because he’s just a nice guy. A lot of journalists know him for his beautiful work as a reporter in the Seattle TV market at KING5 and KOMO, and as the creator of the infamous “one-shot” story. But he’s also been an educator and mentor.
Sharify says it’s important to him to make sure the love of our craft is shared, and he walks that walk, passing down lessons he’s learned over the years so the next generation of broadcasters can pass those lessons down themselves. He inspires journalists with work like his impressive documentary “Bob’s Choice,” and is making the craft better through his mentorship. — By Anne Herbst
Helen McQuerry, a former photography lab technician and lab manager at the Detroit Free Press, is awarded the J. Winton Lemen Award in recognition of outstanding technical achievement supporting and advancing visual journalism. As a high schooler in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, McQuerry was cleaning houses for 25 cents an hour. One homeowner had a photography lab, and McQuerry was fascinated by the equipment. The homeowner asked if she’d like to learn the craft.
“She started me on the very basics of photography. Then she started me printing,” says McQuerry. “Eventually, she got somebody else to clean!”
McQuerry moved to Detroit but had difficulty finding work. “Nobody wanted to hire me because I was a Black female,” she recalls. She persisted, answering ad after ad, until she interviewed with someone who didn’t have the fortitude to hire her, but did have the determination to find an opportunity for her elsewhere.
That elsewhere was the photography business of Joe Clark, self-proclaimed “Hillbilly Snapshooter,” who did work for Life, National Geographic, Jack Daniels and General Motors. McQuerry would work for Clark for 14 years, and her high quality work caught the eye of Tony Spina, chief photographer at the Free Press. The two met, and in 1966, she was hired, among the first women and first Black journalists to work in that newsroom and photography department.
McQuerry recalls accompanying photojournalist David Turnley to New York and Amsterdam for high-profile awards presentations. Turnley is quoted in Trailblazers of Light, saying: “Helen is one of the best printers I have ever worked with, one of the most special and dearest friends I have ever known.”
Jeanie Adams-Smith is awarded the Robin F. Garland Educator Award, which recognizes outstanding educators who shape a new generation of visual communicators and photojournalists through their lessons. Adams-Smith joined the faculty at Western Kentucky University’s School of Media Photojournalism program in 2002 after working as a picture editor at the Chicago Tribune and attending Ohio University as the John S. and James L. Knight Fellow. Nearly moved to tears when notified of the honor, she said, “I can’t wait to tell my students. I love them dearly.”
“It has been a tough year for them,” she says. “It was one of my biggest motivators when I would get tired or stressed about our teaching conditions; I would just think about what they were going through. I would pull myself up and work hard for them to make their learning experience a little more fun or unique.”
“I love the culture here and I love being part of the growth of these kids. They leave and they go do amazing things out in the world, and when they come by and say ‘thank you,’ that is the big payoff. It is probably why I still love teaching after almost twenty years.”
Elizabeth Cheng Krist is awarded the John Durniak Mentor Award for serving as an outstanding photojournalism mentor. Krist was a National Geographic photo editor for over 20 years, and is a founding member of the Visual Thinking Collective. She serves on the board of Women Photograph and the W. Eugene Smith Fund, helps program National Geographic’s Storytellers Summit, and advises the Eddie Adams Workshop. Krist curated A Mother’s Eye for Photoville and CatchLight, and the Women of Vision exhibition and book. She teaches for ICP, Leica, and La Luz. She has reviewed for the New York Portfolio Review and PhotoPlus, and has judged for the Lit List, The FENCE, POYi, the Ian Parry Scholarship, Best of Photojournalism, Getty/Instagram, and the RFK Journalism Awards.
“Mentoring is so ingrained in who she is and in how she carries herself that I don’t think she’s always aware she’s mentoring!” said a nominator, noting Krist’s willingness to provide guidance to others without favor.
“She has been an inspiring mentor to me,” said photo editor Jessie Wender. “Elizabeth is calm, encouraging, and unfailingly kind but also incredibly direct and honest. She is a true champion of photographers, both veteran and emerging.”
NPPA Special Citations are given for making significant contributions that advance the interests of photojournalism. This year, the awards committee chose a group and an individual that made meaningful impacts on their local photojournalism communities.
Photo by Ken Cedeno
Women Photojournalists of Washington (WPOW) is honored for their exceptional efforts to fundraise for, and distribute, personal protective equipment (PPE), such as helmets, body armor and gas masks, to its members and other photojournalists in the D.C., Maryland, Virginia (DMV) area in the wake of the January 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol. More than 400 individual donors gave to the cause, raising more than $22,000. WPOW conducted a needs assessment, dispersed the funds as reimbursement stipends, and reserved a portion of the proceeds to provide HEFAT training to members and establish a small pool of PPE for member checkout.
WPOW’s response in the wake of that harrowing day — to take care of one another and prepare for the possibility of additional threats in the future — was inspiring and worthy of recognition.
JB Nicholas is honored for his dedication and perseverance in protecting the rights of journalists by challenging credentialing rules of the New York City Police Department. While covering a major news event in the city in 2015, Nicholas had his NYPD-issued press credential seized by a high-ranking member of the force because Nicholas was allegedly photographing the scene from a restricted area. Nicholas then filed a lawsuit, on his own, against the department, spending many years litigating the case and eventually obtaining the help of a prestigious law firm. As part of the settlement in that case, the NYPD agreed to issue new rules regarding the suspension and revocation of press credentials.
"I spent six years of my life fighting for this victory,” said Nicholas. “I did it for the hard-working journalist who frequently has to face the police alone … so that no journalist would ever again have their NYPD-issued press credential seized for simply doing their job, following the story, and reporting facts."
Alex Garland is awarded NPPA’s Humanitarian Award. On June 7, 2020, Garland, a freelance photographer, reporter and writer, was photographing a protest against police brutality and racism in Seattle. Garland was closeby when Dan Gregory was shot in the arm as he attempted to stop the driver of a vehicle that appeared to be heading towards a throng of protesters.
“Knowing the sound of gunfire, having the skills to act, and being in the right place at the right time put me at Dan's side within seconds of the shot,” says Garland.
Working with street medics, he searched for an exit wound and applied a tourniquet before resuming his journalistic duties. Garland’s quick actions may have saved Gregory’s life, and reminds us that we are human beings first and photographers second.
Attorney David Bralow and the Press Freedom Defense Fund are awarded the Alicia Calzada First Amendment Award. This award recognizes those who have worked to promote and advance the First Amendment, especially as it relates to visual journalists. It is named after NPPA Past President Alicia Wagner Calzada, the founder and longtime chair of NPPA’s Advocacy Committee who is now an attorney specializing in media law.
The Press Freedom Defense Fund (PFDF) and David Bralow have made significant investments in helping expand First Amendment resources for visual journalists in recent years, both through joint initiatives with NPPA and by providing essential legal support for journalists, news organizations, and whistleblowers. For their commitment to the First Amendment needs of visual journalists and the entire profession, PFDF and David Bralow are quite worthy of this award.
Morris Berman Citations are given to individuals or organizations for special contributions that have advanced the interests of photojournalism.
Deb Pang Davis is honored for her instrumental work on the Trailblazers of Light website, chronicling decades of women photojournalists, picture editors, and other pioneers in visual journalism. Davis spearheaded the website's design and user experience that made it such a trove of information on women in visual journalism. Now specializing in digital design and user experience, Davis has a background in editorial design and photography, having worked for The Globe and Mail, Chicago Tribune, The Oregonian, National Geographic Traveler, and Virtuoso Life.
“There is great value in connecting generations of visual storytellers with the contributions of those who came before us,” says Davis. “I saw Trailblazers of Light as an opportunity to help build an educational resource and acknowledge the women photojournalists who persisted and made their mark in the industry.”
Photo by © Jessica Bal, 2019
The team at Photoville, led by Laura Roumanos, Dave Shelley and Sam Barzilay, was chosen for this honor for their dedication to promoting photojournalism and other forms of photography in accessible, public, and community-engaging ways and doing so undeterred by challenges posed by a pandemic. Their support of diverse perspectives, photo organizations, independent and emerging photographers is a vital resource not only for the photo community but also the public as images continue to dominate our lives. They have put on festivals in New York City and Los Angeles, and have innovated with their FENCE exhibits in parks and downtowns across North America. Photoville celebrates its tenth anniversary festival in New York this year, September 17 through December 1.
Peter Southwick is awarded the John Long Ethics Award, given to an individual who has upheld, shaped, and promoted ethical behavior in all forms of visual journalism. After a long career at the Boston Herald-American, Associated Press’ Boston bureau and The Boston Globe, Southwick taught journalism for 16 years at Boston University before retiring in 2017. He has a long tenure of service on NPPA’s Ethics Committee.
“If the reading and viewing public were to lose trust in what we show them, if they suspect that our work doesn’t accurately reflect the heart of the stories we tell, then we have lost our reason for being,” says Southwick. “If we fail to live up to the standards that we set for ourselves in order to bring honest visual content to our audiences, the future would be bleak indeed. I still believe in photojournalism as a necessary part of a free society, and it’s our responsibility to make certain we never lose that essential connection with the public.”
Bill Foley and Joe Young are each awarded the Burt Williams Award, which is given to a news photographer who has completed at least 40 years of service in the industry.
Bill Foley was a photographer in the Middle East for the Associated Press based in Cairo and Beirut from 1978-1984, then as a contract photographer for Time in Beirut and New York until 1990. He then took a special assignment for AP to return to post-war Lebanon. In more recent years he was active as an educator at Marian University until 2019, and continues pursuing editorial projects of his own, including one on individuals in recovery from addiction, which is part of an exhibition, now at the Indiana State Museum, called FIX: Heartbreak and Hope Inside Our Opioid Crisis.
Joe Young’s career, chronicling Indiana daily life primarily for the Indianapolis News, stretches back into the late 1950s. He joined NPPA in 1957 and knew Joe Costa, NPPA’s founder and first president, well. He fondly recalls taking group photos at NPPA’s 50th and 60th anniversary conventions, and is on tenterhooks as NPPA plans to celebrate its 75th anniversary in some fashion this year. As a life member, he’s intent on supporting NPPA and its mission. He still attends events as much as he is able, and can occasionally be spotted with the Panon camera that he used to photograph then-presidential candidate John F. Kennedy.
Frank Folwell is awarded the Kenneth P. McLaughlin Award of Merit, given to those who have rendered ongoing and outstanding service in the interests of news photography. A former deputy managing editor for photography and graphics at USA Today and photo director at The Des Moines Register, Folwell has provided a deep level of support for NPPA’s missions of education and advocacy through his work as vice president and treasurer of the National Press Photographers Foundation. When NPPA and NPPF partner to rally around a cause, great things can happen — NPPA’s COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund is a prime example.
Ohio University’s Student NPPA Chapter, NPPAOU, is once again awarded the Outstanding Student Chapter Award. NPPAOU has set the bar for what our student chapters can do. They bring in quality speakers, encourage workshop and conference attendance, engage in discussions about emerging ethical and safety issues, and have supported their fellow students — especially during the pandemic. They facilitate mentoring between more senior students and freshmen, and they encourage students to join NPPA while explaining the role NPPA serves in the broader visual journalism community.
From left, Marcia Allert, Eve Edelheit and Patrick Fallon are awarded President’s Awards, nominated by Andrew Stanfill during his term as NPPA President for distinguished service on the Board of Directors in 2020. Fallon was recognized “for efforts in building and retaining our membership, often through one-on-one conversations with members around the country.” Edelheit was recognized “for efforts to build bridges across the visual journalist community, particularly with groups who did not see a home in our organization.” Allert was recognized “for efforts to aid the leadership of the NPPA and guide it through a year of crisis with countless calls on communications and advice.”
Established in 1949, the Sprague Award is NPPA's most prestigious honor. It recognizes individuals who advance and elevate photojournalism by their conduct, initiative, leadership and skill, or for unusual service or achievement beneficial to photojournalism and technological advances. It was named for Joseph A. Sprague, a press technical representative for the Graflex Corp. who is credited with equipment designs, and improvements and refinements to the original Speed Graphic 4x5 camera, which was once the press industry standard.
All members in good standing are able and strongly encouraged to submit nominations for these awards, and all student chapters are strongly encouraged to self-nominate for Student Chapter of the Year by providing supporting documentation about activities conducted over the past year.
Michael P. King, an NPPA past president, served as the chair of the Honors & Recognition Committee, the group that puts out an annual call for nominations and determines each year’s honorees. The committee will be helmed by current past president Andrew Stanfill for the 2021 calendar year awards.