Chaparral photographer’s portfolio prevails again

Third year of photography contest produced our first repeat winner, amid 18 strong entries


Madeline (Maddie) Malhotra, from Chaparral HS, has been named the 2015 CHSPA Photographer of the Year. Maddie also won this award in 2014, which is a testament to her consistency as well as skill. Check out her porfolio here.

This contest, in its third year, honors photojournalists for a portfolio of 7-12 images from the past year, rather than for a single image or even a photo essay.

Second place went to Shayla Bradford, from The Classical Academy in Colorado Springs. Her portfolio can be found here.

Chosen as third place was Elliott Douglas of Ponderosa HS. His portfolio can be found here. Elliott earned an honorable mention in this competition in 2014.

Honorable mentions included: Brianna Bradley, Rock Canyon HS (she was also honorable mention in 2014); Forrest Czarnecki, Conifer HS; and Katie Pickrell, Mountain Vista HS.

The contest drew 18 entries, all submitted either through a photo sharing service or through Dropbox. Each CHSPA member school medium could enter one student in this competition. You can see many of the entries by going to the CHSPA Flickr 2015 Photographer of the Year album.

The judge was Michael Ciaglo, Colorado Springs Gazette photographer and part of the 2014 Pulitzer winning series “Other Than Honorable.” Michael is a University of Oregon graduate, and earned his high school degree at Monarch HS in Lousville, Colo.

Ciaglo wrote:  The photographers who immediately rose to the top in this competition had a vivid mix of emotion, action and reaction. The top three portfolios demonstrated their ability to shoot in all types of situations and make photos that popped off the page.

The first place winner showed her willingness to get close to her subjects, even in emotionally tough situations, and composed these moments in a thoughtful fashion. The second photo of cheerleaders is one I would have been incredibly proud to have shot myself.

Second place had more posed shots, but showed technical skill with her camera and editing applications above and beyond what I would expect from someone in high school. The photo of the eyes was so creative and textural I found myself stuck on the photo for an incredible amount of time.

Third place had great action sports photos, but more important than that I think, was his ability to make photos away from the action. It takes a smart photographer to realize that the best reactions and fun moments are happening behind your back, and this photographer has some great emotion in the photos away from the field.

The honorable mention winners all had photos I really liked, but were brought down by photos that didn’t make as much sense in their portfolios. Overall, I was incredibly impressed by all of the entries.

If I were to give advice for next year, I would challenge everyone to take a step closer to their subjects. Most portfolios were filled with sports photos, which is great, but athletic events are easy to shoot socially speaking. There’s less interaction and people expect their photos to be taken there. Start putting yourself in places where you have to talk to people to take their photo. Don’t be afraid to use your wide lens and get close!

If anyone has any questions about their portfolio, or just wants to talk about photography, please don’t hesitate to email me at [email protected]. Hope to hear from some of you!