RJ Sangosti, David Weatherwax Picked As BOP's Photojournalists Of The Year

A gunman slipped into a midnight premiere of the new Batman movie through an emergency exit, tossed two hissing gas canisters and then methodically, calmly walked up the aisle firing, killing 12 people and wounding 70. It was among the worst mass shootings in American history. Tom Sullivan, center, embraces family members outside Gateway High School where he has been franticly searching for his son, Alex Sullivan, who saw "The Dark Knight Rises," in the movie theater where a gunman opened fire Friday, July
A gunman slipped into a midnight premiere of the new Batman movie through an emergency exit, tossed two hissing gas canisters and then methodically, calmly walked up the aisle firing, killing 12 people and wounding 70. It was among the worst mass shootings in American history. Tom Sullivan, center, embraces family members outside Gateway High School where he has been franticly searching for his son, Alex Sullivan, who saw "The Dark Knight Rises," in the movie theater where a gunman opened fire Friday, July 20, 2012, in Aurora, CO. Photograph by RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post

By Donald R. Winslow

DURHAM, NC (April 23, 2013) – RJ Sangosti of The Denver Post was today named the National Press Photographers Association's Best Of Photojournalism 2013 Photojournalist of the Year (Larger Markets), and David Weatherwax of The Herald, in Jasper, IN, was selected as the Photojournalist of the Year (Smaller Markets). 

It is the second year in a row that Weatherwax has won the Photojournalist of the Year (Smaller Markets) title.

Patrick Smith, a Baltimore-based freelancer shooting freelance for Getty Images, is the Sports Photojournalist of the Year. The runner-up is Quinn Rooney, shooting for Getty Images, and third place is Bill Frakes of Sports Illustrated.

Aaron Huey, shooting for National Geographic Magazine, is the winner of Cliff Edom's "New America Award" for his photographic essay. "In The Shadow Of Wounded Knee." Awards of Merit were presented to runners-up Joe Amon of The Denver Post and April Saul of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

And in another important category, Jay Janner of the Austin American-Statesman is the winner of the Returning Veterans, Coming Home category. Lisa Krantz of the San Antonio Express-News is the runner-up.

In the Photojournalist of the Year (Larger Markets) category, the runner-up is Damon Winter of The New York Times. Third place is Tyler Hicks of The New York Times, and an Award of Excellence was presented to Patrick Smith.

In the Photojournalist of the Year (Smaller Markets) category, the runner-up is freelancer Tom Kelly IV of Philadelphia. Third place is Gerry Melendez of The State in Columbia, SC, and an Award of Excellence was presented to Michael Holahan of The Augusta Chronicle. 

Holahan finished second in this category last year, and was the winner of this title in 2011.

When he got the call to learn that he'd won the title, Sangosti said, "It's been a hard year. But this is very flattering and humbling. I look at Tyler [Hicks] and Damon [Winters] work every day. Both of them are amazing."

Sangosti's portfolio includes general news, spot news, daily local assignments, a picture story on a prison hospice patient, Colorado's wildfires, and of course the Aurora movie theater shooting.

"Tim [Rasmussen] has kind of turned the ship around here, and we've come out of the shadow of the Rocky Mountain News. We've always had some amazing photographers here, but now it's the trust that makes the difference. We've got the tools we need, the access, the mobility, and Tim trusts us to do it."

Beyond the photography department, the rest of the newspaper has grown into the importance of photography to their news product as well. "Photography has become really important to the Web site," Sangosti said, "in these days when the print product takes a bow to the Web, and on the Web photographs are really important, maybe it makes the newsroom approach things a little differently now than maybe they did before."

Weatherwax works at a newspaper where the front page of The Herald is turned over to a documentary picture story every weekend, year round. Several photographers have made a name for themselves at The Herald over the years because they're working on picture stories day after day in addition to the daily assignments.

"I'm just proud to step in and to help to carry on the proud tradition of the newspaper,"Weatherwax told News Photographer magazine today. "The Saturday Feature will be 35 years old this November. We couldn't do the Saturday Feature without the planning. We've got them planned for a couple of months out. It's a lot of work but the newspaper supports the tradition and the community understands it." 

His favorite picture story this year, a family's annual hog butchering, was a result of the kind of planning he's talking about. "I made a single image there they year before last, I had missed most of the story, but I put it on my calendar for this year. I called the woman about every two months just to remind her and to see when it was coming, it's not always at the exact same time, and this year it was a little later than usual. But this year I was able to invest the time in it to make it a story."

Cliff Edom's "New America Award" recognizes documentary storytelling that focuses on communities, diverse groups, and issues that are often under-reported in the mainstream media. It recognizes the spirit of diversity as it is celebrated and witnessed in everyday life in urban communities and rural towns, and it honors the genius and effectiveness of Cliff Edom's vision, approach, and passion for teaching photojournalism.

Edom award-winner photojournalist Aaron Huey's picture story, "In The Shadow Of Wounded Knee," was published in National Geographic magazine. "After 150 years of broken promises," Geographic author Alexandra Fuller wrote, "the Oglala Lakota people of Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota are nurturing their tribal customs, language, and beliefs. A rare, intimate portrait shows their resilience in the face of hardship."

Final judging in this year's Best Of Photojournalism contest was completed last weekend at Ohio University's School of Visual Communication in Athens, OH, and it was coordinated by NPPA BOP Contest Committee chair Terry Eiler and OU VisCom associate professor of journalism Stan Alost.

In the Still Photojournalism, Photojournalism Editing, and Multimedia Photojournalism categories there were 68 judges used online in the Primary round, and a much smaller group of judges picked winners in person in Athens at VisCom during last weekend's Final round. The Still Photojournalism and Photojournalism Editing Final rounds were broadcast live online using Google Hangout.

For the Still Photojournalism finalists the judges were photojournalist Amy Sancetta of the Associated Press; Jack Gruber, a staff photojournalist for USA Today; and Boyzell Hosey, the director of photography and multimedia for the St. Petersburg Times.

For the Editing finalists the judges were picture editor Molly Roberts of Smithsonian magazine in Washington, DC; photojournalist Matt Moyer, a Knight Fellow and National Geographic contributor (who was a replacement for judge Steve Jessmore, who had a family emergency); and photography director Bert Fox of The Charlotte Observer.

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Judges today also released the winners in the Best Of Photojournalism contest's remaining Still Photojournalism categories.

In General News, first place is John Moore of Getty Images. Second place is RJ Sangosti of The Denver Post, and third place is Patrick Smith. Awards of Excellence were presented to Valerie Mosley of the Springfield News-Leader, Pete Marovich of the European Press Agency, and Heather Charles of The Chicago Tribune.

In Domestic News, first place is Adrees Latif of Reuters. Second place is Gregory Shaver of The Journal-Times, and third place is Bill Roth of the Anchorage Daily News. Awards of Excellence were presented to Michelle McLoughlin, freelance for Reuters, Peter Pereira of The Standard-Times, and Mike Eliason shooting for ZUMA Press.

In the Domestic News Picture Story category, first place is Adrees Latif of Reuters. Second place is also Latif, and third place is Jessica Hill shooting for the Associated Press. An Award of Excellence was presented to Robert Stolarik shooting for The New York Times.

In Feature, first place is Wally Skalij of the Los Angeles Times. Second place is Andrew Harnik of The Washington Times, and third place is Kacper Kowalski of Panos Pictures. Awards of Excellence were presented to Karim Sahib of Agency France-Press, Jacob Ehrbahn of Politiken, Daniel Ochoa de Olza of the Associated Press, and Probal Rashid of OnAsia Images.

In International News, first place is Manas Paran of the Associated Press. Second place is Goran Tomasevic of Reuters, and third place is Esteban Felix of the Associated Press. Paul Hansen of Dagens Nyheter received an Award of Excellence.

In International News Picture Story, first place is Bernat Armangue of the Associated Press. Second place is Paul Hansen of Dagens Nyheter, and third place is Kirill Ovchinnikov for Russian Reporter magazine. Awards of Excellence were presented to Altaf Qadri of AP, Elio Colavolpe of Emblema, and Cesar Manso of Agence France-Presse.

In the Best Published Picture Story (Larger Markets) category, first place is Melissa Lyttle of the Tampa Bay Times. Second place is Matthieu Paley, and third place is Aaron Huey shooting for National Geographic. An Award of Excellence was presented to Lisa Krantz of the San Antonio Express-News.

In the Best Published Picture Story (Smaller Markets) category, first place is Jill Nance of The News & Advance. Second place is also Nance, and third place is Brian Powers of Sun-Times Media. Two Awards of Excellence were presented to Dave Weatherwax of The Herald.

In the Road To Office category, first place is Brooks Kraft shooting for Corbis. Second place is Max Whittaker of Getty Images, and third place is Jerry Wolford of the News & Record in Greensboro, NC. Awards of Excellence were presented to Doug Mills of The New York Times, Joe Raedle of Getty Images, and Damon Winter of The New York Times.

In the Road To Office Picture Story category, first place is Damon Winter of The New York Times. Second place is Chip Somodevilla of Getty Images, and third place is also Somodevilla. Awards of Excellence were presented to Brooks Kraft shooting for Corbis, and Adam Dean of Panos Pictures.

In Sports Action, first place is Jessica Hill shooting for The Associated Press. Second place is Karen Warren of the Houston Chronicle, and third place is Andrew Harnik of The Washington Times. Awards of Excellence were presented to Vernon Bryant of The Dallas Morning News, Bill Frakes of Sports Illustrated, and Kai-Huei Yau of the Tri-City Herald.

In the Sports Feature category, first place is freelancer Mike Roemer of Green Bay, WI, shooting for the Associated Press. Second place is Ben Brewer of the Deseret News, and third place Keith Birmingham of the Pasadena Star-News. Awards of Excellence were presented to Patrick Smith, freelance for Getty Images, Scott Barbour shooting for Getty Images AsiaPac, Mathieu Belanger of Reuters, and Suzanne M. Tylander.

In the Sports Picture Story category, first place is Patrick Smith shooting for Getty Images. Second place is Majid Saeedi, and third place is Carlos Gonzales of the Star Tribune. An Award of Excellence was presented to Andrew Harnik of The Washington Times.

In Olympic Action, first place is David J. Phillip of the Associated Press. Second place is Brian Peterson of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and third place is Phillip of AP. Awards of Excellence were presented to Simon Bruty of Sports Illustrated, Suzanne Plunkett of Reuters, Al Bello of Getty Images, and Philip Noble Reuters.

In the Olympic Feature category, first place is Adrian Dennis of Agency France-Press. Second place is Tim Clayton, and third place is Ezra Shaw of Getty Images. Awards of Excellence were presented to Shaw and Robert Gauthier of the Los Angeles Times.

In the Olympics Picture Story category, first place is David Goldman of the Associated Press. Second place is Ezra Shaw of Getty Images, and third place is Chris McGrath of Getty Images.

In the Non-Traditional Photojournalism Publishing category, first place is Niclas Hammarström of ZUMA Press. Second place is freelancer Sayed Asif Mahmud, and third lace is freelancer Christopher Capozziello.

In Contemporary Issues, first place is Vadim Ghirda of the Associated Press. Second place is Roberto Schmidt of Agence France-Presse, and third place is Manish Swarup of AP. Awards of Excellence were presented to Jacquelyn Martin of AP, Arkasha Stevenson of the Los Angeles Times, and Rebecca Blackwell of AP. An Award of Excellence was presented to Jimmy Alford of the Wise County Messenger.

In the Contemporary Issues Story category, first place is Johnny Hanson of the Houston Chronicle. Second place is Alejandro Cartagena of Newsweek, and third place is Craig F. Walker of The Denver Post. Awards of Excellence were given to Jacob Ehrbahn of Politiken and Emilio Morenatti of the Associated Press.

In Portrait and Personality, first place is Alex Garcia of the Chicago Tribune. Second place is Arkasha stevenson of the Los Angeles Times, and third place is Tyrone Turner shooting for National Geographic magazine.

In the Portrait Series category, first place is Andrea Gjestvang of the Moment Agency. Second place is Mila Teshaieva of Laif, and third place is Colin Delfosse of Out Of Focus. An Award of Excellence was presented to Jay L. Clendenin of the Los Angeles Times.

In Pictorial, first place is Erika Schultz of The Seattle Times. Second place is Tom Kelly IV, and third place is Brian Cassella of the Chicago Tribune. Awards of Excellence were presented to RJ Sangosti of The Denver Post, Christopher Pike of The National, Robin Loznak, Jonathan Newton of The Washington Post, and Benjamin Krian of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

In the Environment category, first place is Michael Chow of The Arizona Republic. Second place is Mark Kelley of Alaska Magazine, and third place is Betinna Hansen shooting for The Seattle Times. Awards of Excellence were presented to Sam Dean of The Roanoke Times, and two Awards of Excellence were presented to Andrey Antov.

In the Environment Picture Story category, first place is Ivan Kashinsky shooting for National Geographic. Second place is James Morgan, and third place is Mario Tama of Getty Images South America. Awards of Excellence were presented to Alex Hofford of European Press Agency, and Dan Bates of The Herald.

In earlier judging, Doug Burgess of KING5 in Seattle was picked as this year's Ernie Crisp Television News Photographer of the Year, and James Evans of CNN was selected Video Editor of the Year. And KING-TV, WAVY-TV, and KCCI-TV were picked as the Stations of the Year in the Large, Medium, and Small markets. 

NPPA's 2013 Best Of Photojournalism contest was sponsored this year by Ohio University's School of Visual Communication and Michigan State University.

Read about the Photojournalism Editing winners online here.