The other night a bunch of Utah photojournalists gathered at Lamb’s Cafe to honor the best work of last year. The results were in for the Utah News Photographers Association’s 2006 Photojournalism Competition.
Eli Lucero, a photographer at the Herald-Journal in Logan, was the contest coordinator this year. We took turns as emcee, switching off announcing the awards in each category. He announced the categories where Tribune photographers did well and I announced ones we where didn’t. It’s too weird to be announcing your own (or your co-workers’) awards, so this worked well. The Herald-Journal swept the sports feature category and I’m sure Eli was relieved not to have to announce his own first and third place wins. I’ll bet that no one there put it together- the reason we were switching off.
But talk about a tough group. Don’t think you can get up in front of this group of photographers and crack a few jokes to lighten the mood. These folks are tense! It’s always been this way at the awards banquet. Must be because they’re all stressed out wondering if they won or not. We tried to keep the mood light, but it’s like putting out a blazing inferno with a spray bottle. People are always tightly wound at this thing.
I’ll try to mention a lot of the awards in a future post. As a group, we Tribune photographers did very well. As an individual, I took home a couple of minor awards.
The highlight of the night was to see my colleague Leah Hogsten be named Photographer of the Year. After four years of coming so close to the title, she finally claimed it.
The POY trophy is a traveling trophy, like the less-presitigious Stanley Cup. The winner takes it to display at home or office.
Last year’s winner, Scott Winterton, took the thing home and did some serious refurbishing. What had previously been only a couple slabs of wood and a spray-painted old camera came back as a serious trophy, with custom woodwork with individual plaques for each of the seven photographers of the year we’ve named. The job he did in improving the trophy was some amazing craftsmanship. It’s now a serious object, and almost requires two people to carry. I can only imagine what will happen to it if he wins again. Big thanks to Scott.
In seven years, seven photographers have laid claim to the title of UNPA Photographer of the Year: Chuck Wing, Steve Griffin, Trent Nelson, Alan Murray, Rick Egan, Scott Winterton, Leah Hogsten.
No one has repeated. And several new talented faces have entered the market. Can’t wait to see who takes it home next year.
We just updated our cellular plans at the paper and each photographer had the chance to pick out a new cel phone. There were a bunch of free models as well as some nicer phones if you wanted to pay a premium.
Watching our photographers choose phones was a lesson in personality.
The thoughtful perfectionists among us did a lot of research into the most reliable, best reviewed phones and picked the top-rated model.
The photographer who gets texts all day from his girlfriend looked into a model with fold-out keyboard.
I joined a small group who ordered the new chocolate phone (the LG VX8550).
All week I was asked why I chose that model. There is no real answer. There was no feature that sold me. In fact, I can’t even tell you what features this phone has. My decision was style over substance.
Simply put, it was the coolest phone available. And I don’t even care if it works or not.
p.s. Apple’s iPhone wasn’t an option.
There was a lot of talking to do before I started photographing the family we covered in our story on suburban polygamy. We had to work out some access issues, especially regarding the family’s privacy. We agreed to not use their last name and that we wouldn’t reveal the city they live in. Then there were photo issues.
For example, who could I photograph? Two of the three wives agreed to be photographed, one did not. The husband was out of the question. It was essential to the family that his identity not be revealed. But he did agree to have unidentifiable parts of his body photographed. This little bit of access allowed me to incorporate the father of this family into the coverage, even if only as a symbol.
Before I started shooting, I needed to know how to handle photographing the children. The father gathered all of the children who were 12 or older. He explained what we were doing and let each of them decide whether or not they could be photographed. He went around the table, asking each one. I crossed my fingers, hoping for the best.
First teenager: “No.”
Okay, one down, I thought. Maybe the next one.
Next teenager: “No.”
OK, let’s hope this turns around.
Next teenager: “No.”
As the no’s continued, I realized I was watching dominoes fall. In the end, only one of the teenagers agreed to be photographed.
I assured the kids I would respect their decisions and keep their privacy, but from that point on the teenagers avoided me.