Virginian-Pilot photographer takes first at POYI contest

Two photographers from the Chicago Tribune took second and third at the 65th annual event.
Friday, February 22, 2008 | 8:30 p.m. CST; updated 9:51 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008
This photo of a young woman whose lantern exploded in her face was taken by Stephen M. Katz of The Virginian-Pilot, who was selected as Newspaper Photographer of the Year by the Pictures of the Year International contest.

COLUMBIA — After hours of deliberation, four judges selected Stephen M. Katz of The Virginian-Pilot as the Newspaper Photographer of the Year Friday night.

“His pictures had diversity,” said Jeanie Adams-Smith, an associate professor of photojournalism at Western Kentucky University and one of the judges for the 65th annual Pictures of the Year International contest. “He could look at a big place at a microcosmic level.” She said that his strong stories, diversity, technical excellence and single frames stood out in his portfolio and separated him from the other photographers.

Scott Strazzante and Kuni Takahashi, both of the Chicago Tribune, placed second and third respectively.

“It was close; I was more on the fence than the other judges,” said Brad Mangin, a freelance photographer from San Francisco and another judge at the competition. “A lot of this judging is comparing apples and oranges, and you could take a different set of judges and get a completely different set of results tomorrow. But we thought the winner was well rounded — he could shoot everything all over the world, including a local football game.”

Katz’s winning portfolio included photos from a high school prom, the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shooting, soldiers in Iraq and a high school football game.

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