An award and a lesson

High school soccer photo wins awardThis website and this blog is all about sharing. I want to have as many eyes on my photos as possible. In the newspaper world its so easy for images to get lost and forgotten so I’m a part of several professional organizations where I enter my work for recognition, critique and for fun. I upload daily images to A Photo A Day whenever I can to share what I’ve been working on but most importantly I do it to receive some feedback, criticisms or support for images I’m either proud of or unsure about. When I’ve shot something I like I’ll enter it into the National Press Photographer’s Association monthly clip contest to see where it stands when judged against my peers in the Northeast region. So far so good. I was on a roll earlier in 2010 and then hit a slump. My breaking news photos tended to be my weakest category compared to the metro areas for a couple reasons: Vermont is a pretty low-crime area AND it’s incredibly rural making it difficult for me to respond quickly to breaking situations. I’ll focus on my making my general news and feature photos top notch instead. Since I’m in a region in competition with the Boston Globe, Hartford Courant and Concord Monitor (to name a few) I’ll take what I can get. Today I noticed I was awarded 2nd place for a sports action photo I submitted. The judges noted the image was clean and tight. Thank you! I had a sit-down with my photo editor, Ryan Mercer, a few months ago and he noted I needed to tighten up my sports action. I was hesitant to crop. Glad I listened.

I certainly won’t be winning any Photographer of the Year titles (but I made the top 11!). This job isn’t about winning awards and titles, but for me the feedback is so important. I’ll never forget the first critique in my very first photojournalism class at BU. I was assigned to shoot my self-portrait. Easy enough, right? I got an F. My darkroom skills were lacking, my negatives were poorly processed and my print was terribly grainy, dirty and completely uninspired. I understand that now, but looking at an F written across my face in red crayon was a big dose of reality I’ll never forget. More than half my class dropped out of the program and 5 of us remained. I quickly learned criticisms were a great thing. How else is anyone to know what someone is thinking? So, today’s award is a nice pat on the back, but tomorrow’s criticism is much more valuable.

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