The Eyes of History is the name of the contest for members of the White House News Photographers Association members. It’s not only a way to show off their work but also recognize the best of the best in their respective fields. This year celebrated the 90th anniversary of the association and I was honored to be in attendance for their annual gala to recognize the winners. The event was held in the very swanky Ritz-Carlton in Washington D.C. and I have to say that they really know how to throw a party.
Dinner was spectacular, as you might imagine and the evening festivities were kicked off by the presentation of colors by the Joint Armed Services Color Guard, a video greeting from President Obama, and remarks from outgoing WHNPA President, John Harrington.
The evenings host and emcee was none other than NBC News Chief White House correspondent, Chuck Todd, who did a great job of keeping things light and funny.
The first winner of the night was Melina Mara from the Washington Post, who won the award for Political Photographer of the Year.
The next honoree was Louie Eroglu from the Australian Broadcasting Company, who one the award for the Video Photographer of the year. After his presentation, the audience was treated to a song by Ayla Brown, of American Idol fame. She was followed by one of my favorite awards, the Military Photographers of the Year. I have such a huge respect for everyone who serves and especially those that do so with their cameras. They are always in the thick of things and their images tell stories that no one else can get. This year the winners were Air Force Staff Sergeant Burt Traynor and Air Force Master Sergeant Jeremy Lock. They are pictured below receiving their awards and posing with Ayla Brown (winning does have its perks).
Next on the agenda were the biggies. First was the award for Still Photographer of the Year, which was won by NPR photographer David Gilky. It sounds kind of funny having the photographer of the year come from a radio station but David’s images from Haiti and Afghanistan really show why he deserved the honors. His work is truly inspiring and also helped NPR win another award for New Media. This is a fairly new thing but something that we are all becoming familiar with; the integration of still, video, and other multi-media that is delivered through the Internet.
Another surprise, at least for me was the winner of the Video Editor of the Year award. You might think that this person would come from a video-based organization. Alexandra Garcia is a very talented editor but she doesn’t work for CNN or NBC, she works for the Washington Post. Who would have thought that someone from a newspaper would win a video award, but that’s just another sign of the times.
The final award of the evening was the Lifetime Achievement award, which went to Dennis Brack. You may not know his name but chances are that you have seen more than one of his iconic images. He has been shooting since the early 60’s and is still active today.
As I sat in the audience and watched the slideshows and videos showing off the work of all the winners, I couldn’t help but think that photojournalism is alive and well. In this day and age where the working professionals are worried about losing their jobs to the iPhone toting public I have to think that there will always be a place for those that can tell the story with their images because that’s what the members of the WHNPA are, the are story tellers. They bring us the images of today’s events that will forever be ingrained into our memories. They bring us the news, both good and bad. As President Bush said, “You might not remember what you read, but you will remember what you saw.”
My thanks to my friends from Canon for having me as their guest, and to the wonderful men and women that make up the WHNPA. I am looking forward to many decades of memorable images, no matter what media stream they flow from.
If you would like to see the images from all the winners of the 2011 Eyes of History contest, please visit the official site by clicking here.