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|| News Item: Posted 2008-06-02

Justin Maxon named 2007 Student Photographer of the Year
San Francisco State student awarded best portfolio by judges from The New York Times.

By Staff

Photo by

Justin Maxon
Justin Maxon, a student from San Francisco State, has been selected as the 2007 Student Photographer of the Year by contest judges from The New York Times photo staff.

The judges, all from The New York Times, were Brad Smith and Jade-Snow Moy (Sports Picture Editors), Josh Haner (staff photographer), and Vincent Laforet (Contract Photographer).

Judging occurred inside The New York Times office on May 6, 2008.

"Overall we felt like editing hurt our two favorite student photographers," said New York Times staff photographer, and former photo editor Josh Haner on behalf of the judging panel. "Had the winning photographer cut out 3-5 photos from the second part of the portfolio, he/she would have been the clear winner by far," he said.

"Truly, it feels surreal to win this award and others I have been fortunate enough to win," said Maxon, after being notified that contest judged selected his portfolio for the top spot. "I have envisioned being a photographer since I was young. Even though I have a long road ahead with many twists and turns, it feels like I am starting to realize my aspirations."

The judges felt that Justin Maxon's portfolio demonstrated a clearly defined style and vision that was the most mature and refined of all the entries. There was, however, an extensive back-and-forth debate between the portfolios of Maxon and Michael Mullady, also a student from San Francisco State. In the end, Maxon's portfolio was chosen as the winner in what was considered a close call.

The judges felt that many of the portfolios entered, including the winning portfolio, suffered from some "overly-simplistic compositions and repetition of subject matter."

Maxon "knows how to layer his frame and while the second half of the portfolio suffered from poor editing, we could not overlook the absolutely stunning first five photos that clearly demonstrated a beautiful understanding of light, composition and moment that separated him from the rest," Haner said.

In addition to Maxon, portfolios from Michael Mullady, Daryl Peveto of Brooks Institute, Matt Eich of Ohio University, Jordan Murph of the University of Hawaii, Paul Gallaher of Whittier College, AAron Ontiveroz of the Univerity of Wyoming, Josh Birnbaum of the University of Illinois, Matthew Williams of Brooks Institute, Troy Harvey of Brooks Institute, and Patrick Fallon of the University of Missouri were viewed by the judges.

Photo by Justin Maxon

Photo by Justin Maxon

Images from Justin Maxon's award-winning portfolio.
These judges are not alone in their praise of Maxon's work. He recently won numerous awards in the 62nd College Photographer of the Year contest; First Place in Daily Life singles in the 51st World Press Photo Contest; Best Student Portfolio and First Place in the Portrait category from The Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar's 2007 contest; Student Photographer of the Year from the San Francisco Bay Area Press Photographer's Association; Second Place in the "Enterprise Picture Story" category in the Best of Photojournalism 2008 contest; and won second place in The 2008 Alexia Competition.

Maxon will graduate from San Francisco State University with a photojournalism degree in spring, 2009, and will intern at the AP in Philadelphia, PA, next summer.

The Student Photographer of the Year contest is open to any student member, and is designed to evaluate a student's everyday skill in addition to their ability to assemble a successful portfolio.

Eleven students were eligible to submit their portfolios to the 2007 Student Portfolio Contest, each of them finishing first in the contest's 'Week's Work' category. Each month, the student who wins the monthly 'Week's Work' award is invited into the annual end-of-year portfolio competition.

"To become a finalist, students need to be selected by members of solely on the type of work they produce on a daily basis," said Grover Sanschagrin, Executive Producer of

"The Week's Work portion of the contest is a more realistic way to determine how a student will be judged once they're out of school," he said. "Just like in the real world, you can't be a one-hit-wonder and make it far in this contest."

"I'd like to thank the judges, and all of the members who reviewed student work throughout the year," said Sanschagrin. "Because of their willingness to participate and share their knowledge, the contest continues to be a rich learning experience for the everyone - students and non-students alike."

"This SportShooter contest is a unique opportunity for photojournalism students, like myself, to receive truly honest feedback during every part of the process from professionals who have made great contributions to the field," said Maxon.

"This type of feedback helps students develop and understand the skills necessary to succeed in this challenging field," he said. "For me, the contest's process, from the week's work, to the monthly winners' critique, to the final judging, has helped me discern some of the improvements I need to make in order to become a better photographer."

Related Links:
Student Portfolio Contest
Maxon's member page

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