INPA Announces 2012 College Photographer of the Year

IU journalism senior Chet Strange was named 2012 College Photographer of the Year at the Indiana News Photographers Association’s annual photography contest Feb. 22-23 at Ernie Pyle Hall.

Strange took home the top prize in the categories for news and sports, nearly making a clean sweep of the competition in the event Friday afternoon. But it was his winning entry for the contest’s portfolio division that earned him the title of College Photographer of the Year.

“It’s a really cool feeling. There were a lot of really good portfolios,” Strange said after winning. “It feels really cool to be first in that group.”

His portfolio covered a wide array of shots, from vibrant images of 5K runners covered in colored dye at a “color party” in Indianapolis, to austere gray scale shots of women in group homes.

Sharing the canvas of his portfolio were a range of characters, such as IndyCar driver Scott Dixon during Carb Day last May, Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention in September, IU basketball’s Cody Zeller during a pep rally in October, and even an Abraham Lincoln impersonator showing off photos of his grandchild on his smartphone at a Danville Civil War heritage festival last summer.

Winning the No. 1 spot in the photography contest’s features division was IU journalism junior Mark Felix, who impressed the judges with his photo depicting first grade students receiving etiquette training last May at the historic Thomas Duncan Community Hall in Lafayette.

And a number of other students rounded out the runners-up positions in the contest. Overall CPoY runner-up Darryl Smith earned second place in portfolios; Taylor Irby and Steph Langan were runners-up in features; Ryan Dorgan, BAJ’12, was runner up in news; and Clayton Moore was runner up in sports.

In total, 88 photos and eight portfolios were submitted for review in the contest, but the judges wasted no time in weeding out submissions that did not meet their standards.

“The best photos had both content and good design,” said Pam Spaulding, a retired (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal photographer who served as a judge for the competition. What she was looking for were photos that not only told a good story with their content, but also effectively communicated that story to the audience via their overall composition.

Russell Yip, photo editor for the San Francisco Chronicle, and Sally Ryan, a freelance photographer in Chicago, were the other two professional standing on the judging panel. Each was allowed one vote per photo projected on tandem drop-down screens in the auditorium in Ernie Pyle Hall. Using hand-held remotes, they clicked “for” or “against” a photo, while Indiana News Photographers Association president Matt Detrich read aloud the cumulative score of their votes to the quiet audience.

“In,” he said for photos that made the cut moving on to another round of review.

“Out,” he said for those that didn’t.

Organized by Detrich and AJ Mast, contest chair for the event, the INPA’s College Photographer of the Year contest is an annual competition in which college and university students from across Indiana submit their best photos each year.

After the competition, judges and other professionals gave one-on-one reviews with students, discussing what they could have improved and giving other pointers.

But the weekend event was not just for college students. It also was a chance for the pros to show off their work. Friday night the judges took to the stage, presenting some of their work and discussing the stories they captured over the past year.

And Saturday, the INPA hosted a competition for its Photographer of the Year, a contest to determine the best photos and portfolios contributed by those within the association’s professional ranks.

Dave Weatherwax, chief photographer at The Herald, a small family-owned newspaper in Jasper, took home first place, earning the title of Photographer of the Year, for his all-black-and-white portfolio of residents of Jasper and the surrounding area. Matt Detrich, INPA president and photographer for the Indianapolis Star, was runner up.

The INPA weekend event has been annual tradition for nearly 40 years, and this was the third year for the IU School of Journalism to host the event. Associate professor Jim Kelly organizes the event at the school.

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