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|| News Item: Posted 2007-04-10

Awards handed out at Sports Shooter Academy IV
Gatlin wins Best Portfolio and Best Photo; Kuwajima wins Best Student Portfolio

By Crystal Chatham

Photo by Kenneth Gatlin

Photo by Kenneth Gatlin

BEST PHOTO from Sports Shooter Academy IV
Sports Shooter Academy IV wrapped up over the weekend with participants covering baseball, softball, rowing, water polo and rugby on Saturday and with the Sunday morning awards brunch. member Kenny Gatlin was the big winner snagging Saturday's "photo of the day" award with his image of a coxswain being tossed into the water at Newport harbor after her team won a rowing competition.

"This one photograph that stood out from the exact same situation and moment photographed by at least a dozen other photographers," said member, USA TODAY photographer and SSA faculty member Jack Gruber. "Great anticipation where the action was going to happen. It had timing and composition, plus it was a very cleanly shot image.”

"Nearly all the information contained in the image contributed to the storytelling of the event. But most importantly, this photo showed a great moment and the emotion of the event."

Gatlin, who freelances for Kitsap News Group in the Puget Sound area of Washington, said he was in the right place when he saw the moment coming.

"They were going to throw her into the water sort of over my right shoulder. I worried a little bit about getting wet, but was able to get out of the way."

He didn't avoid getting wet all together though, "The dock sank and I was up to my ankles in water." Gatlin made the winning image with a 24-70mm zoomed on the wider end, mounted on a borrowed 1DMk II from the Academy's on-site Canon reps.

"Saturday was a busy day. We did crew, rugby, and water polo back to back so I didn't get to look at anything until the loose edit (session back at the hotel)," he said. "I liked it a lot when I saw it, but I wasn't expecting any award for it.
Everyone is just so good here, with so much experience and talent."

Photo by Kenneth Gatlin

Photo by Kenneth Gatlin

BEST PORTFOLIO WINNER: Images from Kenneth Gatlin's winning portfolio at Sports Shooter Academy IV. member Sean Haffey, San Diego Union-Tribune photographer and another SSA faculty member said, "The best photograph (from Saturday) had all the things you would be looking for in a emotional victory photograph with the added twist of perspective. There were other strong images of the cockswain being thrown in the water but the fact the person was upside down as well as with such a great facial reaction, it drove home the moment."

Gatlin also was named winner of the Best Pro Portfolio produced during the workshop. Instructor Wally Skalij, a staff photographer for the Los Angeles Times and a member said of Gatlin's body of work: "He's got a lot of moments in his Academy portfolio and he displayed a really good eye." member Ikuru Kuwajima, from the University of Columbia, Missouri, won the Best Student Portfolio for his body of work made during SSA IV.

"The student who won the best portfolio was very consistent with quality images, said Haffey, "He had very interesting angles, content and moments that set his work apart from the other portfolios. He seemed to be thinking hard about his approach to each assignment."

Summed up member Myung J. Chun, Academy instructor and Los Angeles Times staff photographer: "If you look at their (Gatlin's and Kuwajima's) work overall, they are both very versatile photographers."

The Sports Shooter Academy wrapped up three days of shooting with an early morning college crew competition in Newport Harbor, baseball at Cal State Fullerton and at Cal State Long Beach, softball at Fullerton and local rugby action.

Saturday evening the workshop faculty judged the Sports Shooter Newsletter Annual Contest and results will be announced in the upcoming issue of the newsletter.

Best Portfolio winners Gatlin and Kuwajima will each receive a Canon PowerShot A550 and a memory card courtesy of Samy's Camera. Gatlin will receive a set of Pocket Wizard Plus II transceivers courtesy of LPA Designs for winning the Best Photo of the workshop.

Photo by Ikuru Kuwajima

Photo by Ikuru Kuwajima

BEST STUDENT PORTFOLIO WINNER: Images from Ikuru Kuwajima's winning student portfolio at Sports Shooter Academy IV.
Other awards were given out during the Sunday awards brunch included:
* Sportsman's Award - Paul Gallaher, Student, Whittier (CA) College
* Team Player/Nice Guy Award - Bruce Omori, Freelance Photographer, Hilo, HI
* Hustle & Innovation Award - Rick Denham, Freelance Photographer, Toronto, Canada

Both the Hustle and Innovation Awards were combined this year and awarded to Toronto-based member Denham, whose acceptance to Sports Shooter Academy resulted in a family vacation to Southern California. Denham traveled to SSA with his wife Amy, 8-months old son Lucas, sister-in-law, mom and step-dad.

Denham, who hustled at every assignment and attended early morning and evening shoots, had to balance the Academy's grueling schedule with his duties as a dad.

"It was tough," Denham said of balancing the Academy's long days with his being a new dad. "(It was) difficult, but in a good way."

"Kudos go to my entire family, though. Everyone really helped out so my wife could also enjoy the vacation," added Denham, who had his own hotel room so he would not to wake the baby and family when he left at 5 a.m. for shoots.

"He was the first to think of the pole cam at boxing and he hustled a lot," Haffey said of Denham. member Gallaher, a math major at Whittier College, and managing editor of the student newspaper impressed The Academy faculty and staff with his work ethic and positive outlook while shooting events and during editing/critique sessions.

"Attitude ... SSA is a lot about attitude. He was a great guy, team player, and was always helping people out," said workshop staff member Jordan Murph.

"The critiques alone make it worth coming (to The Academy)," said Gallaher. "I don't get other people to look at my pictures enough and getting that from the professionals opens your eye about your photos."

Photo by Emma Hanashiro / Sports Shooter

Photo by Emma Hanashiro / Sports Shooter

The Sports Shooer Academy IV class picture. member Omori caught the attention of Sports Shooter founder and workshop director Robert Hanashiro while shooting the Cal State Long Beach - University of Hawaii men's volleyball game. "One incident at that match sums up Bruce. While the players were warming up spiking the ball he was balancing his 400mm, shooting photos and shagging balls! He always had a smile and a nice word for you, even though he was tired like everyone else. He never complained. And took in everything during the critique of his work."

Gallaher, Denham and Omori won gear from Think Tank Photo and Canon.

The Sports Shooter Academy is the brainchild of Hanashiro, a staff photographer with USA TODAY, and Southern California freelance photographer Matt Brown. With the cooperation of the NCAA Division 1 Big West Conference, Academy participants have the opportunity to cover real sports events under the guidance of the workshop's faculty. Each evening, participants edit their day's work and the best photographs are made into a slideshow and presented to the entire workshop.

Sports Shooter Academy IV was sponsored by Canon, USA, Think Tank Photo, Samy's Camera, Apple and LPA Designs/PocketWizard.

"Talking to the faculty was by far the most important thing for me. I liked being able to sit down with them and learn what I could've done different to make a photo go from good to great," said Gatlin of his workshop experience. "I learned from the other members of workshop too - looking at their stuff and then looking at your stuff makes a big difference. A lot of them have a lot more experience so it was good to talk to them about the images too."

"From the first day to the third day we saw a lot of change. Backgrounds got cleaner and crops got tighter," Haffey said at the end of The Academy.

"During three days you see people taking faculty advice to heart and using it. You see people get better," Chun added.

Links to SSA photographs made at Big West Conference events:

Day 1:

Day 2:

Day 3:

Related Links:
Sports Shooter Academy IV underway in Irvine, CA
Ikuru Kuwajima Wins First 'Photo of the Day' at Sports Shooter Academy IV
Beach volleyball action garners second 'Photo of the Day' at SSA IV
Sports Shooter Academy

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