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|| News Item: Posted 2004-03-03

Leading Off: Out. Out. Out...A week at POYi
By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / Sports Shooter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / Sports Shooter

Robert Hanashiro at the University of Missouri famous columns during a break in the POYi judging.
The emailed invitation was short and to the point: Would I help with the judging of the newspaper division of the Pictures of the Year International competition at the University of Missouri.

Lots of memories splashed through that little brain of mine: Columbia, MO had to be pretty cold in February (and we were enjoying a very sunny and warm winter here in LA at the time); I had been there once to pick up an award eons ago and just two years ago I had a very troubled and conflicted time judging NPPA's Best of Photojournalism contest.
Did I REALLY want to spend a week in Missouri and possibly revisit those ghosts of BOP as well as miss the NBA All Star Game and an international rugby tournament I was looking forward to covering?

But my two voices of conscience (friend Brad Mangin and my wife Deanna) encouraged me to participate in the POYi judging, pointing out what a great learning experience it would be as well a chance to meet the faculty and students at Missouri.

I thought I may become the only human being (alive) that has judged both POYi and BOP. Maybe that alone should have been enough to convince me that I had to go to Missouri.

Needless to say, Brad and Deanna were right, the experience in Columbia was not only eye-opening and educational … I also had a lot of fun.

Being a judge at POYi is sort of like a "Groundhog Day" experience, the Bill Murray flick where every day is like the previous. Fellow judges Kathy Andrisevic (editor, Pacific Northwest Magazine), Luis Rios (DOP of the Miami Herald, Ron Tarver (staffer at the Philadelphia Inquirer) and I would stumble sleepy-eye into the lobby of the (not the Hyatt) Regency at 7:30 am for our walk to the Avis Tucker Forum, located in Gannett Hall.

After a stop into Lakota Coffee for our morning caffeine and sugar kick-start and we would be in our seats around 8. The judging would go on throughout the day until 6 or 7 pm (once we went until 8) and then it would be off to dinner somewhere downtown.

At a little after 8 viewing and judging would begin the four judges would limber up our thumbs to get ready for the countless number of times we would press a green or red button …

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / Sports Shooter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / Sports Shooter

The voting box keeps track of "in's" and "out's" as the POYi judging panel pushes their green and red buttons.
Then there is the seemingly endless drone from the vote - keeper:

The only real change in the routine was dinner in a different spot each night:
Buckingham Smokehouse (avoid the hot links; but go with Ron Tarver's suggestion and buy a bottle of the "Sphincter Shrinker" hot sauce on the way out!); Bangkok Gardens (the pork and chicken dishes are two items I have not seen in a Thai restaurant before; we went twice during the week!); Shilo Bar & Grill (Wed. nite prime rib special!) and the Pasta Factory (Good change of pace later in the week).

Of course a visit to Columbia wouldn't be complete without visits to … Boochie's (go with the students' recommendation: 2 cheeseburgers and a cup of chili, but don't take a camera with you!) and Shakespeare's Pizza (thin crust, just the way I love pizza).

So after viewing thousands and thousands and thousands of photographs … most of which were pretty bad (we once went a stretch of "outing" 194 straight images before finding one to move to the second round!) … I give you "Bert's Top 10 Tips For Entering Contests".

10) Crooked horizons only accomplish getting the judges to tilt their heads.

9) Complete captions, especially on ALL images in picture story categories, can go a long way to helping your entries. When entries are voted into later rounds, captions are read aloud and the judges really take those into consideration while viewing photographs.

8) Shock value photographs (graphic, bloody, dead bodies, blown off body parts, etc.) often don't help your picture story or portfolio. And this is definitely true of photographs of people engaging in bodily functions!

Photo by Chris Detrick

Photo by Chris Detrick

L-R: Kathy Andrisevic, Editor, Pacific Northwest Magazine, Ron Tarver, staff photographer Philadelphia Inquirer and Luis Rios, DOP Miami Herald. Foreground is POYi contest coordinator David Rees.
7) Entering photographs into single categories in color and then in multi - picture categories in black & white for no apparent reason (like establishing a style) only makes judges wonder about the motivation of the move.

6) Cropping and backgrounds were a major problem area in the sports categories. As Brad Mangin says at the end of the Workshop & Luau portfolio review video: "Backgrounds, backgrounds, backgrounds … 90% of the people here have shitty backgrounds."

5) In the multi-picture categories, just because the limit is 12 or 10 photographs doesn't mean you have to use all of those slots. Many picture stories and portfolios were hurt seriously with weak images seemingly included just to fill out the entry. I know we all have not seem a photograph we've taken that we don't just love but editing is a huge part of the multi-photograph categories. Get friends and colleagues to give you a second or third opinion. But ultimately it's your entry and your choice.

4) LCD technology has come a long way. But sometimes subtlety in images and especially in color hue and saturation MIGHT be lost in the translation. The LCD projector used at POYi was VERY good, but there was still a small amount of detail lost. So keep that in the back of your mind when cropping and toning entries.

3) Don't bother entering that photograph of a monk walking on the side of a wall or a kid on sawhorses pretending to be cowboys roping a calf because they just ain't gonna cut it these days in the sports category! Sports ACTION is back.

2) Just because it was shot in (pick one) Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, Sierra Leone, a crack house, a crack alley, in a house of prostitution, an AIDs hospital, an orphanage, an insane asylum or the subject has a leg (or two) missing or has an American flag in the frame … doesn't necessarily make it an "award winner". They still have to be GOOD photographs.

1) Students love "edgy" … judges love good photography and story telling.

The University of Missouri and POYi coordinator David Rees run a fantastic contest. Organized, thorough and educational to those in the audience … I couldn't help but think why I had ever doubted coming to Columbia.

Another thought kept popping into my head and the judges had several discussions on this: Why can't there be just ONE major photojournalism contest in this country? NPPA: Can't we all just get along?

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / Sports Shooter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / Sports Shooter

Kathy Andrisevic, editor Pacific Northwest Magazine, walks with Angus McDougall during a break in judging of POYi at the University of Missouri.
I learned a lot about photography (good and bad) during the week and had many great conversations (not debates!) with Luis, Ron and Kathy during the judging.

* * *

Sports Shooter v. 64 is a little late … and I apologize for that. A long and tough weekend at the Academy Awards can do that to you …

And speaking of the Academy Awards … everyone this time of year always asks who my "picks" are for the top Oscars. But I'm like Johnny Depp, whom I photographed the Saturday before the Academy Awards. Someone asked him during the portrait shoot, which nominated movies he had seen, and he replied matter of factly "None!" When I added that I was the same except for "Finding Nemo" Depp laughed and said "Like six times right?"

We both have kids about the same age …

* * *

This issue of the Sports Shooter Newsletter we have the first of a two-part article on image file interpolation from Tom Braid. Mike Treola contributes a personal piece on making sure we don't put our cameras down when it comes to our families. Trent Nelson updates us on the tragic events involving some local photographers in Salt Lake City as well as writes a report about the Moscow - Russia Youth Games.

Robert Dall writes about surviving the cold and life in an igloo; Sports Illustrated's Porter Binks gives us the lowdown on the NCAA Tournament and the Final Four and we have contributors Reed Hoffmann and Photodude checking in with their regular columns.

So sit back, turn up the volume that Yeah, Yeah Yeahs "Maps" EP, adjust the contrast on that monitor and enjoy the Sports Shooter Newsletter v.64!

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