COD Photo Program graduate Brian Powers was just named 2010 Illinois Student Photographer of the Year by the Illinois Press Photographers Association in St. Louis, Missouri last month at their annual meeting and convention.
Brian was a Photojournalism student at COD in the spring of 2006. One of the class assignments is to shadow a photojournalist for a day and accompany him on his assignments and to the newspaper office to observe the picture editing process. Powers was matched with Jonathan Miano of the Naperville Sun.
“It’s funny how it all worked out because he is now my co-worker,” said Powers.
After the Shadow assignment, he applied for a Co-op/Internship at the Naperville Sun and worked there as a Lab Tech and Photographer for two years. Miano advised him to continue his education at Western Kentucky University because it had an excellent Photojournalism program. “They have one of the best programs in the country and I would highly recommend it,” says Powers.
“While there I had some great opportunities and met some amazing people. In 2008 I was lucky enough be selected as a participant in the Eddie Adams workshop in New York which opened up my eyes to how powerful this medium can be.”
Last November he went to India to cover the 2009 World Association of Newspaper Editor and Publishers annual meeting. “The conference brings together all the great minds in our industry and is a giant think tank/state of the industry address to the world of journalism. My job there was to document every speaker and every event that happened over the course of the five day conference.”
He attended Western Kentucky until the Aurora Beacon News hired him as a full-time photojournalist earlier this year. The Beacon News, like the Naperville Sun, is part of the Sun-Times Media Group of newspapers.
“Everything really started when I got the job at the Naperville Sun. I had said I never wanted to be in photojournalism, but after getting a taste of it there I have never looked back.”
This is Powers’ favorite photo from his award-winning portfolio.
“I picked this one for a few reasons. As a photojournalist we are not only out on assignment to make pretty pictures, but to tell a story. Sometimes that story is on an assignment sheet, but a lot of the time it will materialize in front of you and it is your job to recognize that and capture it.
This shot was taken at the end of a long and hot day covering the Naperville Sprint Triathlon through Downtown Naperville. I had everything I needed and was walking back to my truck when I spotted two guys headed for the finish line with a banner and some cardboard bell cutouts.
“That’s odd.” I thought, and went over to see what their plans were. They explained that their buddy and his girlfriend were both running in the race and he was planning on proposing to her after she crossed the finish line.
“Sweet!” I thought and I followed them back to the finish line.
As we all know, figuring out where to stand is the hardest part of photography (thank you, Jeff Curto), so after he crossed they got set up and I tried to visualize how the scenario would play out to give myself the best chance of getting the shot.
I stood facing the finish line hoping there would be a big hug, and thank God there was. To me this tells a better, more interesting story than any of the other photos from that day.
It has the hug, the ring, the banner and the finish all in one frame, which makes it for me. You could probably even draw some parallels between a triathlon and the path of life and love but I will leave that for the eloquent types.
In the end, it’s all about connecting with those you photograph. The more you can find out about them the better your photos will be.”
To see Brian’s complete award-winning portfolio, go to http://bpowersphotography.com/IPPA.html