Photographer of the Year

NOTE: Each current CSMA member medium may sponsor ONE portfolio, by ONE student journalist. 

What is this?
This competition honors our best photojournalists by selecting the best portfolio of work from this school year.  This contest differs from Best of Colorado individual photo contests, such as news photo/yearbook, or sports photo/newspaper. This contest honors photographic work from this school year, whether taken for yearbook (to be published later) or news publication or website, and rewards photographers who demonstrate broad excellence.

This competition does require captions to accompany the images. All portfolios will be viewed on computer screens. Do not print and mail your portfolio.

The photographer who submits the top portfolio will be named the CSMA Photographer of the YearThe winner receives a prize of $250 and the winner’s program receives a check for an additional $250.

Here is the online form that all entries for this competition must complete. Please note that the entire form must be completed in one sitting — the system will not save partial forms. Sorry. Take a look ahead of time to be sure of what you need to gather before completing the entry form.

What is a portfolio?
Each entrant should select 7-12 images taken during the current school year and place them in a portfolio folder (to be shared through Dropbox or some other sharing site) or on a website (a personal site or using a photo sharing site such as Flickr).

The general purposes of a portfolio include helping attain scholarships and getting hired as a photojournalist, among other things. This portfolio is to demonstrate a photographer’s skills and storytelling abilities. Please include captions.

What will judges look for?
Judges want to know that the photographer did not just “get lucky,” and seeing a range of work will show consistency of skill and artistry.

Some advice from veteran judges: Your portfolio is only as strong as your weakest image, so judges advise you to NOT include 12 images just to be including the maximum entries. If you have 12 terrific images, by all means, use them all. The best portfolios tell stories, often include themes, and the photos don’t all “look the same.” Put your strongest image first, second-strongest goes last. Consider sequence/flow, and variety/diversity. Variety = different subjects, camera angles, POV, and shows style as well as tech ability, but should still have your “voice” as a photographer.

Check out our story on the 2017 winning portfolios.

Check out past portfolio entries winners listed at the end of this post.

Check out http://studentpress.org/nspa/winners/photo14.html for a wide range of national award-winning photographs from past school years. You need NOT include examples of your work in all these award areas.

Who may enter?
Each current CSMA member medium may sponsor ONE portfolio, by ONE student photojournalist. Entrants may be of any grade, but must have been a staff member of at least one student medium at the school which is a member of CSMA. However, photographs in the portfolio need to have been published, either in print or online, or will be published in the current yearbook/newspaper/magazine/online news site.

How do we enter?
Carefully gather high-resolution JPG copies of your best work since last August and rename them in this format: 01Kenerskiportfolio.jpg, 02Kenerskiportfolio.jpg, etc. (so judges will know the order you wish them to see your images).

Place them in one folder, which you share through Dropbox or some similar file sharing site, or share through your Flickr account (or some similar service), or through your own page on a website. All entry information must be entered in the online application form – and then the portfolios will be distributed to the judges by CSMA.

When is the deadline for submission?
Entries must be submitted by 11:59pm MT on April 15.

When do we get results?
Judging will be finished by May 15, and CSMA will announce first, second and third place winners, plus any honorable mentions awarded by judges, during the last week of May. Certificates will be mailed to schools that week.

There are no enrollment classifications for this contest.

Top portfolios will also be shared through the CSMA Flickr site and website.

What if we have more questions?
Contact Elise Carlson at [email protected] or call 970.930.1877.

Photographer of the Year – Past Winners
2022 – Kira Zizzo, Rock Canyon HS – See her portfolio here.
2021 – Jespyn Bishop, Brighton HS – See his portfolio here. Read judge Mike Murray’s comments here.
2020 – Taylor Yuan, Arapahoe HS – See her portfolio here. Read judge Mike Murray’s comments here.
2019 – Maddie Provost, Rock Canyon HS – See her portfolio here.
2018 – Aidan Hicks, Smoky Hill HS – See his portfolio here.
2017 – Conner Davis, Mountain Vista HS – See his portfolio here.
2016 – Elliott Douglas, Ponderosa HS – See his portfolio here.
2015 – Maddie Malhotra, Chaparral HS – See her portfolio here.
2014 – Maddie Malhotra, Chaparral HS – See her portfolio here.
2013 – Ian Marynowski, Smoky Hill HS – See his portfolio here.

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Photographer of the Year