Student Photographers and Instructors Take Top Honors at ONPA Contest

Photojournalism students and instructors won 12 awards at ONPA 2012

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Kent State University's School of Journalism and Mass Communication student photojournalists and photojournalism instructors won 12 awards, including Best of Show, at the Ohio News Photographers Association’s (ONPA) 2012 annual contest, making 2012-2013 the most award-winning year for the school’s photojournalism program in the last 30 years. The journalism school’s photojournalists previously won significant awards in the Hearst, College Photographer of the Year and Society of Professional Journalists competitions.

David LaBelle, photojournalism program coordinator, attributes the success of the photojournalism program to the joint efforts of the instructors, Jeff Fruit, former director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and the school’s current director, Thor Wasbotten.

“The number of overall wins is the fruit of a lot of labor and vision from a lot of people, beginning with Jeff Fruit's commitment to growing the program, Thor Wasbotten's commitment to excellence and competitive spirit to be the best, and photojournalism instructors Gary Harwood and David Foster's numerous contributions of time and money to ensure that students are prepared and able to enter competitions. Harwood led the way with the ONPA entries and set the example with his year-long ‘Tiger Legacy’ project,” LaBelle says.

“It was a special weekend for our photojournalism students,” Harwood says of the ONPA contest. “This is a very difficult competition because our students are facing the best work from professional photographers throughout Ohio. We’ve not won 12 awards before in this competition, and we didn’t expect it. We’ve never had a weekend like this.”

Senior photojournalism major Chelsie Corso won the Best of Show award, the top honor among all professional and student entries in the contest, for “Sisters,” which also earned the top prize in the feature photo competition.

“This photo was difficult for me to produce,” Corso says. “It wasn't just a photo subject, but my own family in it. When I won Best of Show, it meant more to me than just a contest. It had personal value to me.”

Among the other honors the School of Journalism received were the Ohio Understanding Award and the Larry Fullerton Photojournalism Scholarship. The list of awards and awardees includes:

Best of Show
“Sisters” by Chelsie Corso

Student Photographer of the Year
Second Place: Hannah Potes
Third Place: Coty Giannelli

Larry Fullerton Photojournalism Scholarship
First Place: Hannah Potes

James R. Gordon Ohio Understanding Award
“Tiger Legacy,” in collaboration with the Massillon Museum, featuring contributing photographers Gary Harwood, David Foster, Adrianne Bastas, Chelsie Corso, Coty Giannelli, Matt Hafley, Jenna Watson, Jessica White and Caitlin Bourqueof the School of Visual Communication Design.

First Place: Chelsie Corso

Third Place: “Exorcism,” Brooke DiDonato
Award of Excellence: “Mother Nature,” Brooke DiDonato

News Picture Story
Third Place: “College Fest,” Coty Giannelli

First Place: “Balloon,” Alexis Pfeifer
Third Place: “Family Exit,” David Foster

Spot News
Second Place: “Fight,” Matt Hafley