I just found out today I won an award in the "Best of the West" competition. (bestofthe west.org)
It's kind of strange to me. Two of the five national awards I've won were sports. This is a sports award as well. That makes half of my major awards in the sports category.
Though, I like shooting sports, I don't consider myself a "sports photographer." I think I'm stronger at other types of photography.
I don't know what that means exactly, but it gives me pause.
Contests are funny because if I don't win something in a contest I enter, I get a little irritated and disappointed, maybe even seethe for a few minutes.
If I win, I have only a hint of emotional reaction compared to losing. Photography is a funny thing. If I actually get a photo I think is good, I know it was given to me by the subject. I know I didn't make the photograph great, I just photographed something that was great in a skillful way. I know that I can take a skillful photograph of something that isn't great and it won't win a contest.
Contests are won by the thing we point our camera at. This photo is a perfect example. Not only did Dominique Byrd make a great catch, the fog was a gift. I've shot a lot of touchdown receptions in bad light and they weren't worth even entering into a contest. It's true I chose the right lens, chose the right spot to stand, framed it correctly, and pressed the shutter at the right time, but I do that almost every game...so what? Byrd and the fog made the great photo.
I think too many shooters think they are great photographers because they made a skillful photograph of something spectacular.
On a side note: I talked to Dominique Byrd's mother. She emailed me after it ran in ESPN The Magazine and asked how to get a reprint. She was a very sweet woman and said the nicest thing to me when I called her. She said how much she liked the shot, and said, "We were blessed you were there to take that photo." I thought that was a really cool thing to say.
Here are the judges comments:
First Place: Thomas Boyd, The Register-Guard, Eugene
Second Place: Danny Chan La, The Salt Lake Tribune
Third Place: Kelly Presnell, Arizona Daily Star, Tucson
Boyd earns first-place honors with a shot of University of Southern California receiver Dominique Boyd reaching to make a one-handed grab of a touchdown pass in a fog-shrouded game against Oregon State.
“This one jumped out right away as a top candidate in the category, and came out as the clear winner,” the judges wrote. “The fog added a surreal look to a nice action photo.”
Second place goes to La for a shot of a high school softball player stretching in a vain effort to tag another player during a title game.
“At first look, the black-and-white threw us off, but when you look at the pure timing, emotion and composition of this photo, it really was worthy of the top three,” the judges wrote.
Presnell captures third place with a photo of Arizona’s Andre Iguodala trying to convince a referee that possession of the basketball belongs to his team.
“This was a fun photo,” the judges wrote. “The look on the face of the player and the two fingers pointing in opposite directions made this an easy choice for the top three also.”
“Overall, this was a tough category,” the judges added. “Most of these photos were probably clip winners throughout the year, and for good reason. It was even a chore to keep it to the Top 10. The newspapers from the West are always very competitive and this year was no exception. It’s probably the best region in the country for sports photography, and the entries showed that.”
Judged by David Petkiewicz, Mac systems administator and former photographer, and
Scott Shaw, staff photographer, for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland.