2011 ACP Photo Excellence Awards Finalists
New this year: ACP is honoring up to 10 entries in each category of the Individual Awards. The top five entries in each category have been announced as finalists, and will be announced as first through fifth place winners later at the fall ACP/CMA convention in Orlando. Up to five honorable mentions have additionally been awarded in each category. The honorable mentions are not ranked.
General News Picture
Judge's comments on General News Winners
Comments for improvement:
Spot News Picture
Judge's comments: Conti's image captures a physically and emotionally-battered tornado victim clutching her mother's dolls. The victim's starry glazed look and overall destruction of the scene set the mood.
Judge's comments: The viewer feels this woman's pain and agony at the scene.
Judge's comments: A somewhat comical, yet newsworthy scene at a state event that captured the attention of the nation. The bemused look of the protestor in the grips of the authorities and the bedlam in the background raises the bar of confusion at the scene.
Judge's comments: Snow? In Texas? The timing is spot on for Karl Anderson's image with the culprit's hands on the fringe of the photograph.
Judge's comments: Ziegler's image of a stunning lightning strike with students oblivious to the weather behind them, is a great weather feature.
Judge's comments: All the classic elements are here in this bike accident: bike in foreground, EMS personnel tending to victim, involved vehicle in the background. Nice change of pace with vertical composition.
Judge's comments: Effective use of existing light, shadows and backlighting make this ordinary scene an extraordinary, creative and artistic image. While a typical silhouette may have resulted from an average photographer's eye, Radick used the emergency lights to complete the details of the firefighter.
Judge's comments: The eeriness of the scene, an almost "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" scenario with the vehicle lights smoke and fog, icy reflections of the trees and the glow of the horizon make for a compelling and telling image.
Judge's comments: Conti pulls at the viewer's emotions when the American flag is retrieved from a structure's tornado wrecked debris.
Judge's comments: This image is whimsical and elicits a chuckle from the viewer, perhaps not an iota of sympathy for the driver. I would expect the majority of its viewers to turn to the inside pages for more details of the incident. News photos can also serve to add a little humor to the day.
Judge's comments: This is an excellent, attention-getting, eye-grabbing image that feature editors in charge of print or web-based media can’t get enough of. Whether this image is the result of the photographer merely being serendipitously in the right place at the right time or fortune favoring the prepared shooter, this shot is so unique and distinct from all the other entries that it jumped out in front quickly and remained there to win. The primary and secondary subjects seemingly exchange places repeatedly in a visual illusion due to the multiple mirrored elements within the frame. The black shirt of the man is reflected in the black background and gives a three-dimensional, layered look based on superimposition. The light bulb starfield of differing shapes and sizes all mirror each other. The convergence of shape, density and luminosity, each of which increases towards the center of the image, combine to create an almost religious, transfiguring effect in which the man’s head seems to radiate mystic energy. This photograph will seize the attention of any viewer and demand a long look and some intentional thought. In this photograph many things work together synergistically: contrast in luminosity, simple composition with excellent framing, a good choice of technique to not silhouette the human form with excellent exposure control, and a good, image-stabilized lens (which allows for crisp, but not perfect, hand-held sharpness frame-wide at low shutter speed). All these factors combine to present a photograph that meets and exceeds all the criteria for a winning feature photo that would be a highlight of any website or newspaper on a given day.
Judge's comments: This photograph is a terrific example of an important principle of feature photography – changing perspectives. By engaging a generally pleasant subject – a woman relaxing on a bench munching cotton candy – in an unusual setting, the ordinary becomes extraordinary. And planning to capture the ordinary under extraordinary circumstances is effort and achievement that sets photographs (and photographers) apart. The differences presented in this photograph in altitude, framing, color, perspective and contrast set this photo apart from other entries as one that viewers will stop and linger on for a few moments, daydreaming about and projecting themselves into the scene. These attributes make this photo memorable and award worthy. There are minor technical refinements that would elevate the status of the photo, yet overall, this is a feature photo worthy of a prominent position in any publication, print or web-based, and one that will give viewers a pleasant encounter. That’s what feature photographic work is all about. Good job!
Judge's comments: Presenting the power of human expression and emotion reflected in everyday events, like a touch football game, is good fodder for feature photography at any media outlet. However, when a photojournalist captures that in an unusual form, a prize-worthy photograph typically emerges. Such is the case with this entry. “Prom Dress Rugby” may be a staple of collegiate intramural activities and something students and the general public are familiar with, but the photographer here de-emphasizes the event in favor of concentrating on the raw power of competition. It is due to the expression of determination on the face of the woman with the ball that the event represented becomes a secondary component of the photograph, offering just enough context to allow her raw energy to become emphasized. Power personalized and actualized is something every photographer should attempt to capture as well as it is here. Excellent control over timing of the shot, framing and composition, exposure, shutter speed and depth-of-field all contribute to a viewing experience that draws the attention of readers. The photograph offers a palpable “just like I was there watching the event” feel to it, which is very hard to convey.
Judge's comments on remaining Feature Winners:
Photojournalism, and feature photography in particular, continues to undergo radical changes, redefinition and new pressures. Feature editors in all media outlets are especially challenged to find the most captivating images and rapidly feed them to their audiences as soon as possible in an effort to stay one step ahead of their competition.
But the competition is not just the newspaper or magazine down the street, as it once was. The competition is now every other individual or entity in the world with a server, a blog or a social network and a growing word-of-mouth reputation due to a video or image that goes viral on the web in a few clicks of a mouse.
Time and distance are now irrelevancies when discussing intended audiences. Printed and paid circulation numbers have given way to page views, landing time and unique visitors.
What’s a feature editor to do? Talk about a tough job, especially with shrinking budgets, fewer paid staff photographers and diminishing sources of steady advertising revenue.
Competitions like the ACP Photo of the Year help feature editors solve one piece of their job stress: where to find photographers that have the kind of eye and mind that enable them to bring back the “money shot,” a photograph that will draw unique visitors to their publication’s web page, drive up page views and increase landing time, all in service to charging the highest possible advertising rates “per impression.” The longer the viewing time of a particular image, the greater the probability that that unique viewer will linger on a given page to see what else is there of interest. Making an impression is what publishing and photojournalism is all about, now more than ever, since time [viewing an image] literally is money to beget more photography.
Each winning entry in the 2011 competition represents photographic talent that is likely to win future awards. Each of the photographers have got “the stuff,” the ‘eye’ and the ‘mind’ which enable them to see perspectives and moments in daily life that generalize to the widest possible audiences.
A viewer that can recognize a “slice of their life” in a moment captured by one of these photojournalists validates the communication cycle inherent in their efforts: photojournalists mirror our own world back to us in interesting and unique ways further enticing our interest and attention.
Feature photographs help us relate to the world and relate the world to us. All of us are more similar than anyone dares to admit. Feature photojournalists do well to remind us of that similarity daily.
Few people would not be tickled by or fail to do a double-take at the feet and toes of the runner featured in Nick Wallace’s “Vibram Fivefingers” shot. The photo by Tim Riethmiller of the communion service at his university reminds viewers of the process of events in life. Events are rarely “still life” moments.
A close-up view of eye surgery by Mark Samala takes us to the edge of the patient’s personal space and unpacks the fragility of our common human experience before our own eyes.
Upside-down acrobatic dancers featured in Riley Shaaber’s photograph, shift our perspective in physical space. It is a natural effect of our mind’s desire to make “wrong” images “right” in our own mind that causes us to dwell on the photo.
Crowd sports photography bids us to remember our fondest memories in attendance at a favorite game, cheering on our favorite team, and being embedded in an enthusiastic moment, such as that reflected in Makenzie Mason’s “Baylor Chant” photograph.
Daniel Cernero’s powerful image of a tattooed volunteer planting a solitary American flag for part of a memorial tribute to fallen soldiers connects with equally powerful emotions for viewers who are either patriotic supporters or opponents of America’s armed forces.
Finally, in one of the most purely “news”-like photographs that stands squarely in the feature category as well, Kelsey Stein has dramatically shown that a university’s news media is responsible for covering the events that touch the larger community in and around the university. The story of the Tuscaloosa tornado tragedy is hauntingly conveyed, in an eerily Katrina-like way, by Stein’s photograph of the Tuscaloosa resident walking away from his destroyed property and upended life.
The entrants who did not place in the 2011 ACP Photo of the Year competition should not draw the conclusion that their efforts weren’t good enough. They should draw insight, inspiration and strength to enter future competitions from the substance of the winning photographs and the respect the winning photographers have for the effort and time it takes to craft a memorable feature photograph. Congratulations to all.
Judge's comments: Nice moment of peak action. I like the opposing player watching the touchdown. Sharp focus and clean background add to the photo.
Judge's comments: Excellent capture of emotion after a call by the referees. The emotion adds to the impact of this picture. Nice composition and clean background.
Judge's comments: Great interaction between a young fan and the hockey players getting slammed into the glass. I liked the reflection of the fan.
Judge's comments: Good “jube” shot after a defensive stop. Excellent lighting, good exposure and background separation.
Judge's comments: Good peak action. The feeling of movement through the photo leads the viewer to the running back. Great interaction between the QB and the defenders.
Judge's comments: Good action shot of the QB about to be sacked. Nice lighting and clean background.
Judge's comments: Composition makes this image. The curve of the rainbow, use of rule of third and lighting is strong in a non-major sport.
Judge's comments: Nice moment. Captures the emotion of winning a basketball tournament.
Judge's comments: Very nice sports feature photo. Great lighting.
Judge's comments: Great baseball moment. The ball on top of the glove with the outfielders pinned again the fence is timely.
Judge's comments: This portrait stood out for its great matery of lighting. The photographer chose (or got lucky with) the perfect time of day to capture natural daylight streaming in through the windows of the restaurant. They also balanced their strobe perfectly to illuminate the Chef Mao and his dish. A wide aperture throws the background slightly out of focus to further emphasize Mao.
Judge's comments: A great example of a candid moment in portraiture, where a subject’s unexpected expression connects with the viewer. This is a picture that makes you feel, and that’s the goal with what we, photographers, do.
Judge's comments: This portrait is well lit and a well-executed idea to illustrate a concept. It’s a perfect example of using wide lens apertures to throw distracting background elements out of focus. But the photographers has still maintained a vague sense of an upscale office environment.
Judge's comments: This one shows that the photographer recognized and used natural light very well. These types of portraits, I think, are important to recognize because it’s not always appropriate to light a portrait. Just because you use creative flash techniques doesn’t make it a good picture. In this picture, the color palette is nice, the warm afternoon sunlight (diffused by the greenhouse) is nice, and the subject’s pose is pleasant, hinting on proud. It all comes together very nicely.
Judge's comments: This portrait showcases a very sports-magazine-style hard lighting scheme that is really intriguing. This lighting works well for this muscular swimmer, it really helps emphasize the smallest details in the photograph, the beads of water and the goosebumps. The background contributes to the record-setting concept of the photograph, but being relatively dark doesn’t distract or detract.
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