National – July 2017 – Photo Story/Essay

Judges Comments

This category was loaded with outstanding individual images, many which would have challenged for top awards in the other categories.But we found many of the selections to be simply collections of images from events, rather than stories with central themes. And what we most craved were stories centered on individual people. We were hungry for the stories that brought us into the lives of individual people, rather than collections of photos - admittedly beautiful photos- from various events. We also noticed that some of the entries contained too many images and needed much tighter edits. Again, as we stated in the comments from another category, don't be shy about running your entries past your photo editors or fellow photographers.Don't let a bland or uninteresting photo detract from a story that contains otherwise strong images! The 1st place entry really jumped out at us. Not only did it center on one person, but the recurring theme, brightly colored parrots contrasted against the overall dark tones of the subject's tire shop, was brilliant. One of the more interesting photo stories we've seen, and both of us loved this. Just fantastic. The 2nd place story, about a transgender Coast Guard lieutenant, also draws us into the life of its subject, and shows us various aspect of that life, both on base, at home and in public. This is awesome photojournalism, and in today's politically-charged times, is important and relevant storytelling. We also applaud the photographer's outstanding opening cutline "...Millerís aunt and her husband accept her transition. Miller's parents have disowned her,"which, combined with the outstanding images, draws us right into this story. The 3rd place story represents some bold storytelling for a newspaper. Most people's visions of motorcycle culture comes from entertainment media. Rarely will newspapers give us the imagery that we might hear about but don't get to see, at least not in main stream papers. But this photographer and this newspaper did. It's gritty,uncompromising, at times politically incorrect and we would love to know how readers reacted to this story. The alternate story gave us a look at a monastery in the backwoods of Illinois. This was a fantastic story that contained several visually-stunning images, but was hurt by a few images that seemed out of place and really detracted from the more powerful images. Two or three fewer pictures would have really improved this very nice story.

Judges: John Harte/Bakersfield College, Alex Horvath/New York Newsday