Repeat finalist

Two days later and I’m still struggling to find the right words.

During the  2017 Hoosier State Press Newsroom Seminar & Better Newspaper Contest Awards Luncheon on Saturday in Indianapolis, I repeated as having the best sports action photo in Division 3 (dailies with circulation less than 6,000).

The photo, which is below, was selected as the photo of the year finalist for its division.

(I also won first place in sports commentary for my weekly column, “Line Drives.” It was my first HSPA award for column writing.)

In 2016, I was awarded first place by the Hoosier State Press Association for three photos. One of those — best feature photo — was selected as a photo of the year finalist.

I was also runner up for spot news photo.

Those honors came as a surprise to me considering I think of myself a writer first, a photographer second.

Not the other way around.

In 2011 I graduated from Central Michigan University with a bachelors degree in journalism with a concentration on news writing. I also minored in sports management, knowing very well I wanted to be a sports writer.

I was required to take a photography class as part of my major, and had dabbled in the hobby post graduation. It was never really a passion of mine, because I didn’t think I’d use the skill at a professional level. But when I began my career at The Commercial Review in July 2013, I was required to take pictures to accompany my stories.

And recent events have forced me to reconsider my evaluation of myself, and my feeling toward photography.

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Column: Line Drives — Being in right spot is half the battle

[This is my column in the Dec. 29 issue of The Commercial Review.]

“Awesome picture.”

“Great photo.”

“Perfect shot.”

Those are just a few of the comments I’ve gotten in the last couple years on photos I’ve taken.

But I’ll admit: Getting those pictures has more to do with Lady Luck than it does my abilities as a photographer.

Half the battle behind a good sports photo is being in the right place at the right time.

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My first-place photos

It’s quite the challenge coming up with the right words.

Honored. Excited. Relieved.

Those are just a few.

But the most important feeling — humbled.

At the Hoosier State Press Association Newsroom Seminar and Better Newspaper Contest awards luncheon today in Indianapolis, I had four photographs receive awards; three earned first place and one was second place. One of my first-place photos was selected as the Division 3 (Dailies with circulation less than 6,000) representative for photo of the year. While I did not receive that honor, it is still pretty darn cool to come away with three first-place awards and even be considered a finalist.

After winning best feature story last year, I was shut out this year as a writer. Honestly, though, that doesn’t matter.

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But first, let me take a selfie…

Prior to the start of the 2016 Jay County Fair (which ran from July 9 through July 16), I announced that I wanted to do something a little different than I had in the past.

This was my fourth time covering the far for The Commercial Review, and each year I have enjoyed it more and more; the 4-H shows, capturing photos of people enjoying the Midway rides, eating fair food and of course, the nightly entertainment at the grandstand.

In 2013, my first time at the fair, I hardly knew a soul. I was brand new to Jay County — I had only been around a couple weeks — so my time there was difficult. I didn’t know what the hell was going on with the 4-H shows and I didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t a fun experience.

But with each passing year, the number of people I knew — and saw — at the fair increased, as well as my knowledge of the wonder that is 4-H.

So before this year’s edition of The Great Jay County Fair, I had an idea.

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Adventures in Photography: Part I

As a youngster, I didn’t care much about photography, and never took the time to learn about the art of photography and developing photos.

My extent as a photographer included buying disposable cameras and then taking them into a one-hour photo joint to get them developed.

I made the “jump” to digital photography early on in high school with a point-and-shoot camera, but didn’t necessarily put much emphasis on actually composing shots and making an art out of it.

But when I got my first DSLR — a Canon Rebel XS — in college, I began to learn the art of digital photography by focusing on lighting, shutter speed and aperture. The latter of which, however, was the most difficult for me to learn.

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Column: Line Drives — Seminar was a chance to learn

[This is my column in the Dec. 11 issue of The Commercial Review.]

There is always room for improvement.

Whether it is on the court, on the balance beam, in the water or on the field, athletes of all shapes and sizes can get better.

Professionals, even, strive for greatness and perfection.

Sports writers and photographers are no different.

Which is why at the Hoosier State Press Association Newsroom Seminar and Better Newspaper Contest Saturday in Indianapolis, learning from the best in the state was an opportunity that couldn’t be passed up — even if it was on only four hours of sleep and nearly enough caffeine to stop someone’s heart.

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Column: Line Drives — Alberson’s return brings smile

[This is my column in the Aug. 28 issue of The Commercial Review.]

I couldn’t help but smile when I saw her on the court.

As I walked into the Jay County High School gym Aug. 14 to shoot photos of the volleyball scrimmage between the Patriots and South Adams Starfires, one of the first things I did was try to spot Morgan Alberson on the court.

I heard she was playing again, but I had to see for myself.

I couldn’t believe it, seeing as nearly four months earlier she had been seriously injured.

But there she was, playing as if nothing ever happened.

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