CPOY 74 Director Jackie Bell lays out the importance of CPOY, and why you should submit your own work next year!
Alexandra Garcia is a producer at the New York Times. Watch the video to get to know her and what she was excited about coming to CPOY this year.
Nick Michael is the Supervising Editor for Video at NPR and was one of our multimedia judges. Watch this video to learn more about him!
Katie Falkenburg, an indepedent filmmaker and photographer, speaks about what she was looking forward to when judging the 74th CPOY competition.
CPOY Coordinator Yanran Huang interviewed Brittainy Newman of Rochester Institute of Technology, who was the gold winner of Individual Story or Essay - Standalone in 2018.
Nancy B.B. Meyer is a firm believer that animals are angels. Meyer has been adopting and helping to place animals from shelters for over 50 years. From dogs and cats to snakes, goats, and pigs, Meyer has been able to find a home for every animal brought to her attention. And she's never given up on an animal because it's old or sick or has been abused.
Yanran Huang: Could you talk about The Love Shack?
Brittainy Newman: The Love Shack was created during my senior year in college. I studied at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester New York and I graduated 2018. And so the Love Shack was a project I created actually in a portrait class. But I thought like this was a great character study. So I thought it’s kind of acted as a portrait in a way like a moving portrait of this woman named Nancy Meyers who lives in Rochester New York and lives in like a house that is all about giving love and spreading love. And I was really drawn to the house and to her obviously because the house itself is covered in hard. It’s super visual and crazy. I knocked on the door asking like who lives in here and just to like tell me more about herself and she was really open to being recorded and having her story shared. I ended up using a drone for like the beginning and ending shot. I didn't actually shoot the drone footage. I have an artistic director in that. I had a fellow student named Brian Bennett. And so I was like learning a whole bunch of new things while shooting this. I brought a light to do the interview. Technical wise I was learning a lot of things to do this project. The project is about Nancy Meyer and how she's all about spreading love and giving it. She was once battered in like the eighty's and so the house kind of access of the place where women who have been formally abused or like a domestic abusive relationship can come to her and like feel the love. But now she has transformed the house like her mission into helping the homeless and helping rescue the animals. In the film you can see like not only her and her husband in the kind of like a little day to day. They go out and celebrate Thanksgiving dinner with her and like all these homeless people. The dinner used to be held at the home itself but now they do it at like a nearby supermarket. It was just like a really quirky fun story. I'm really into quirky stories. So I'm really into people who just like have like a strong passion and like kind of artists to get their feel.
YH: Did you meet any difficulty while doing the story?
BN: I think it’s always difficult to tell a story. I have the curse of knowledge of like knowing everything about this woman so how do I convey that to viewers who know nothing through like video and through editing. So I think editing this project was definitely difficult. It took a lot of different iterations. I had a lot of different eyes looking at it to give me feedback like if it’s make sense, does it look like I'm making fun of her, the music choice and everything needs to be paid attention to.
I guess another difficult thing was this is in the dead of winter even though she was like a couple blocks down. I guess also just like that person was weird, getting this done, there is no story is important and you want to continue doing it. So staying motivated and keeping the people that you're working with, like my other assistant shooters or like Brian, for example, who helps with the drone, you know, keeping the motivated to be. Yes, this is important. So let's go and get up and let’s do this. I think that's another difficult thing that always happens in any project.
Nancy loves the piece, she still talk to me this day, the main character. And it's received so much good feedback like COPY. That was such an honor to receive 1st place that was like honestly really surprised me going insane.And so yeah I am I'm really happy with the response that project is getting.
YH: How is your fellowship in the New York Times going?
BN: I love it. Honestly, it’s a dream come true. I have assignments every day including weekends sometimes, like 7 days a week. My back is killing me carrying tons of different equipment because I never know what I'm shooting every day. Sometimes I get notified if I have been assigned that day that hour and so I always have reasonable lens in my backpack. But I love it. It's really an amazing opportunity and it's like brought me to so many different people. Photojournalism in general is like my keys of the world in a way. So people can allow you into their lives. That's such an amazing thing, the trust that comes with that, the relationship and friendship. That's all still happening while on assignment for them. I get amazing feedback from my editors you know. Tomorrow actually my college is visiting The New York Times. They always do meetings with different companies. So it's kind of cool full circle that like my college’s visiting and I’ve already is an alumna to present.
But it's really intense. It's cool. It's hard. Sometimes I think I like is long term, storytelling like documentary work. The majority of the assignments that I receive are actually portraits, building mugs and photographing sports a lot which I'm not like an expert on. But they want you to shot how you shot, not like how a Getty photographer or AP photographer shot. So it's really cool to just kind of staying in my own zone and show what I have to offer but then also have to learn all these so fast, like lighting and portraiture and so utilizes everything that I learned in college ten times. But it's really cool and I get to meet reporters and writers and seeing the story published in the paper. I get tear sheets via email and like seeing it like in person as it's like the coolest feeling. I got my 1st front page for the 9.11 memorial so that was also like a huge honor. It only makes me want to work harder and strive more.
YH: What’s your future plan?
BN: My main goal has always been to work on that a documentary film project. I'm working on one right now about virginity auction. There's these girls that are like selling their virginity online like hundreds of thousands of dollars and I already went to Peru and documented a girl for a week. Right now I'm playing the grants and hopefully getting funding from other sources to continue that and get some new equipment. I really for the future just like want to win an Oscar and like be on the red carpet and just be part of a team. That's really involved in like one long term like story. But I think that won’t happen for like a couple years. I think I still need I like having like that the work I can’t imagine being a freelance there's really hard specially in the video world. It's just not possible. I think you have to be part of the production company if you really want to do video because it just would kill your body, a lot of equipment, funds and everything. But I'm learning every day. This is like a business. So I think it's really interesting. In my future, I just want to continue telling stories in all different medium. I'm really into installation art and immersive storytelling. I eventually want to create an exhibit one day and so just incorporating animation and coding. This is a whole bunch of stuff I think there's a multitude of possibilities of storytelling.
YH: Can you provide some suggestions to college photographers who want to do multimedia in future career?
BN:Watch a lot of stuff. I spent all my free time in college, like in between classes, just watching New York Times op docs and going on the Vimeo page and looking at strictly college work and professional work. I would look at the in the school of journalism all their video works. Everyone's experience and life is different than yours. So the way they speak helps and impacts you and change your perspective personally and professionally. I just think it's really really important to watch films like from the 1970s, 60s, and looking at real cinema, composition and dialogue.
And then also, take your time when it comes to editing and how telling the story right. I like to be really hands on with how I edit. If I doing a couple interview, I transcribe everything, cut out the transcription, paste it on my wall all these stuffs. I think it's nice and fun to hands on and collaborative with your classmates and listen to them. I think a lot right now in college for photojournalists is very competitive. But your classmates are like your future resources so I think it's important to remember that and that can push them away from the competitions. I don't know. Just do it, do the work. It's a really really hard work. Who’s gona see this. Who’s cares. It might be the one doesn’t care. And you have to strive back and look at competitions and see what they look for.
Still Division judges Alexa Keefe, Genaro Molina, Adriana Teresa Letorney, and Scott Strazzante sat down with students over lunch to discuss photojournalism, empathy-led work, and more. Here are a few moments from Day 4 of CPOY74.
Photos by India Garrish.
Scott Strazzante of the San Francisco Chronicle talks to students over lunch.
Adriana Teresa Letorney, Founder & CEO of Visura.co, and Alexa Keefe, Senior Photo Editor at National Geographic magazine, exchange ideas.
Genaro Molina, award-winning staff photographer for the Los Angeles Times, in black and white, featuring NPPA.
Alexa Keefe leads the discussion.
Scott Strazzante's boots were made for walking.
CPOY Coordinator Yanran Huang interviewed Gabriel Scarlett of Western Kentucky University, who was the 73rd College Photographer of the Year in 2018.
Julian Rodriguez plays with his son Christopher at their home on Pueblo's East Side. Julian's decades-long struggle with addiction brought him intimately close to the gang operations as he often bought from and sold for the gangs in order to support his own addiction. "Everything that I desire and want in this life is for that boy," he explains. Christopher will grow up on the East Side, deep in Duke territory, but Julian hopes that a loving relationship with his father can keep him away from the gang lifestyle. (Gabriel Scarlett, Western Kentucky University)
Yanran Huang: What’s your most difficult story so far?
Gabriel Scarlett: Every story is challenging in different ways—whether it be challenging emotionally, logistically, financially or physically. A few stories have been difficult in all these ways.
When I began documenting life in the East Side neighborhood of Pueblo, Colorado, I had little idea that I would return time and again over the next year as the story grew into “Flock of Doves”, an essay on a community affected by local street gangs.
I attend school in Kentucky, so returning to this story meant several cross country road trips and constantly searching for grant funding. When I was in town, I frequently slept in my car in order to cut down on costs.
At times this story was logistically challenging as I was denied access to one of my subjects who was being held in the Pueblo County Jail.
Looking back at this story, I can see so many of its visual pitfalls and how disjointed its narrative was. One of the biggest takeaways from the story was to be more prepared before I get started. I was truly happy to have put myself out in this community and attempted this story, but if I were to do it again, I would approach the topic with more focus and a clearer idea of the final product and the why behind what I was doing.
YH: How’s your National Geographic internship?
GS: Each year I entered CPOY, my efforts were made with the internship in mind. Since seeing Aaron Huey’s documentation of the Pine Ride Reservation when I was in high school, I wanted to be a National Geographic photographer above all else.
This summer did not disappoint. I was given a very challenging assignment to document Bob Ballard’s search for Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Electra in the South Pacific. Alongside a television crew of about two dozen who were making a Nat Geo TV special, I was sent as the lone still photographer. I was responsible for filing from the field for several digital stories in real time while simultaneously photographing with the scope of a potential Magazine piece, in case the plane was found and the mystery solved. While that did not happen, it was a wonderful exercise in planning and executing a broad essay of this kind that stretched from Amelia’s hometown of Atchison, Kansas to the remote island of Nikumaroro.
Along the way I learned a little bit of on location lighting as well as how to use an underwater DSLR housing. Freediving and photographing was one of the funnest and most challenging parts of the entire expedition. Even though we only needed one or two good shots from the underwater perspective, I was able to use some of my downtime between shoots to dive along the pristine coral reef at Nikumaroro, seeing plenty of reef sharks, sea turtles, and manta rays.
YH: Can you give advice to college photographers on portfolio?
GS: To me, editing together a CPOY portfolio was like taking stock of myself photographically over the past year. Listening to the screencasts of the judges’ critiques was invaluable and each year I felt I was getting closer to a body of work I could be truly proud of.
I would advise anyone looking to enter a portfolio to simply make it theirs. Don’t be too embarrassed by one or two of your stories that feel half-baked or incomplete. This is not your polished website portfolio, but rather a statement on the work you completed in twelve month’s time. Bring together all your hard drives and start to compile your favorite work from the year. Find your personal voice within that mix and don’t ask too many people for advice. One or two close friends or mentors who know you and your work intimately can help you to hone your vision, but too many opinions can leave you overthinking and confused. I cannot stress enough how much my close friends helped shape my portfolio entries each year, in ways both big and small.
I encourage any and all—no matter what grade in school—to put together a portfolio entry each year. It is such a great exercise in self-editing and so helpful to gauge the “success” of your efforts over the past year and what you may or may not want to do differently in the future. Going forward, I think I will continue to pay attention to the CPOY competition and in particular, the portfolio category as it is always remarkable how much great work can be made by students in just a year.
Here's the percentage of this year's submissions by region! Recognize your home? Infographic by Liv Paggiarino.
Alexa Keefe is a Senior Photo Editor for National Geographic and a still image judge for CPOY 74. She shares advice for young photographers: "Know the story you're telling, it's so much about your unique voice," Keefe says.
You’re looking at every image entered in this year’s Interpretive Eye category, all jammed together into one frame!
Here's a breakdown of all the shutter speeds photographers used in this year's entries in the Sports Action category! Infographic by Liv Paggiarino.
Our first category of the competition was Spot News; it was also our smallest category of stills submissions. Here's what the judging of that first category looked like on our end.
Photos by Joel Chan
CPOY 74 Judge Scott Strazzante watches the slideshow of entries for the Spot News Category on Sunday.
MU student volunteer Army Feffer takes out some clementines for the morning; his role this morning was "host", which includes making coffee and making sure the snack table was well-stocked.
CPOY Director Jackie Bell gives some guidelines on judging to this year's Stills Division judges, Scott Strazzante, Adriana Teresa Latorney, Alexa Keefe and Genaro Molina, prior to the judging of the first category.
Gotta get that caffeine! CPOY Coordinator Hilary Tan grabs some much-needed coffee before judging on Sunday morning.
We have some shiny new CPOY stickers to put on our mugs now!
CPOY 74 Judge Adriana Teresa Letorney mulls over an image during Spot News judging.
The judges look through every image large on the screen; they'll see each image submitted at least twice before finalizing a decision on whether to vote it in or out.
Here's a breakdown of the apertures used this year in the Portrait category. Infographic by Liv Paggiarino.
Friends and family members of Devonte Ortiz gather on Friday, July 6, 2018, at Pleasant Hills Apartments in Austin, Texas. Witnesses say Ortiz's neighbor Jason Roche fatally shot 19-year-old Ortiz in the early hours of July 4 in a dispute about fireworks.
Yanran Huang: What’s the most difficult thing while covering spot news? How do you deal with it?
Lynda Gonzalez: In general, I think the most difficult thing about covering spot news is just not knowing what’s going to happen. And I think also managing a lot of adrenaline, well, also trying to kind of managing a lot of emotions to what’s just happening. Sometimes the setting is very sad and you've got a lot of adrenaline rushing through your body but also... I'm a really empathetic person. You can get filled with grief really quickly if you're covering a funeral or if you're covering something where someone died. So I think the most difficult thing about covering spot news is just managing a lot of physical responses to what you're photographing as well as emotional responses.
I’m a strong believer in getting therapy. I think therapy can give you a lot of the tools to manage in the moment those things that are really difficult. It also has helped me adopt mindfulness practices that I can do while I'm in those moments where I'm just kind of be overwhelmed, which tends to happen when you're having breaking news. And I think grounding yourself and taking a moment to breathe deeply and ground yourself is helpful.
YH: How is your internship in The Dallas Morning News?
LG: I’m really loving it. I’m new to Dallas. The first time I came here really was for this internship. I'm from the central Texas region and I also lived along the south Texas border for a while and so moving to north Texas has been different. But it’s really exciting. It's different culturally and demographically. And also, it’s different just because the sheer size of the D.F.W region (Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington Metropolitan Area) is massive. It's been really exciting to be here because it's a really happening place, a lot of things happen here in terms of national interest. We have a lot of big events and a lot of big sporting teams as well. It's really cool to be in a city and covering topics that the rest of the nation is also interested and curious about. The photo team here is remarkable and it's really wonderful to work with such a diverse group of people in the newsroom.
YH: Can you get give suggestions to college photojournalist for future?
LG: Some people get this advice a lot, but I really do think it's the best. It's just starting your own backyard. I didn't get an internship my first year at graduate school and everybody else did. I was panicking. I'm going to be so behind. I don't have an internship. It’s so bad on my resume. So the first summer of grad school I stopped in a collective myself and I thought to myself, “Ok, what do you want to be doing.” What I really wanted to do I wanted to go back to the south Texas border and work on my own project that I was interested in. So that's what I did.
I moved back to the border for that summer and I spent my weekends at the beach and during the week I got up – I had a job and I had an internship – and I would work really hard at this project that nobody was telling me to do and I was just curious and interested in. I built a lot of connections in the community along the border and did a photo essay last summer about the colonials in South Texas. Those are a little under developed communities that don't have a lot of access to infrastructure and water services and city services in the city because it's so far out of the city limits. I got to meet a lot of wonderful people and I got to learn a lot more about myself and my own pace without having to be in the formal structure of an internship.
So my advice is if there's a story that you're interested in, just go do it. You don't need any permission to do it. It actually looks better. It's a better reflection of you if you just get up and do it yourself because it shows you're self-starter and you're interested in that theme. It’s the passion come to leading you not because someone comes to tell you go do the story. So that’s my best advice for college students, start doing stories that matter to you because that will reflect really well what you need you find censorship. That will also be the key to unlocking some of the bigger opportunities. So after I did that self-started project. That's what I use to show future editors and that's how I started getting internships because they had a big project that I worked on my own and that was impressive by itself.
Photos by Liv Paggiarino and India Garrish
Two buttons to rule them all: these are the remotes that judges will be using to vote in or out on each image and story they see this week. (By Liv Paggiarino)
Student volunteers gain the training necessary to fulfill their duties throughout the week, which include reading captions, calling ins and outs, operating the sound system and providing judges with snacks and (most importantly) caffeine! (By Liv Paggiarino)
MU senior and social media volunteer India Garrish smiles while going through images to post for the day. #Meta (By Liv Paggiarino)
CPOY Coordinator Anto Tavitian shows student volunteers how to operate the in-and-out voting machine during training Saturday. (By Liv Paggiarino)
MU graduate student Lexi Deagan explains to undergraduate volunteer Liz Goodwin how to operate the soundboard during volunteer training Saturday. (By Liv Paggiarino)
We design and make our own buttons here at CPOY; it's tradition! (By India Garrish)
"Don't ever hit 'save' on this," Anto says while explaining how to read captions of entries during volunteer training Saturday. "You'll make me very sad if you do."* (By Liv Paggiarino)
*No images were harmed in this training. There is one computer that we ask our volunteers not to save anything on, because they aren't making any changes to the files but other computers are.
During CPOY week, the building's staff graciously shares some fridge space with us so that we can provide food and beverages to judges. (By Liv Paggiarino)
MU student volunteers Elizabeth Underwood and Sammy Snyder peek into the fridge that'll hold beverages for judges during volunteer training on Saturday. (By Liv Paggiarino)
MU student volunteer Joel Chan stands in the break room while going through training to make coffee for judges. (By Liv Paggiarino)
MU graduate student volunteer Jessi Dodge tests the microphone during volunteer training and setup on Saturday. (By Liv Paggiarino)