CPOwhY am I not this talented?

Kevin Cook of MU won the Interpretive Project Gold in this year's CPOY.

Kevin Cook of MU won the Interpretive Project Gold in this year’s CPOY.

This past Tuesday my J2150 class had the opportunity to sit in on the darkened Tucker Forum in Gannett Hall of the timeless J-School to watch the trials and triumphs of talented college photographers click pass our eyes. It was CPOY68.

We had the ability to sit in on the editing session for the Feature category, which had photos that would accompany a feature story, or as CPOY puts it, saying,  “A candid picture of a found situation containing strong human interest, a fresh view of the ordinary or humor. In all cases the dignity of the subject must be respected.” We saw the panel of judges, ranging from those who hailed from National Geographic to The New York Times, trudge through hundreds of photos with a chorus dominated by “out” to get it down to 38 to finally get it down to the Gold, Silver, Bronze and three Award of Excellence recipients. They would all shift through the photos, taking composition, caption, story presence, emotion, etc. into account before they clicked their clickers to get a majority vote of “in” or “out.” It reminded me a lot of Project Runway in that way. Heck, one of their promotional mini buttons (one that I added to my backpack button hall of fame) just had the word “out” repeated in tiny print over the entire glossy surface.

I was in complete awe that my peers created such pieces of artistic photo-j wonder. I was also baffled by how these judges could quickly go through these photos, just throwing away photos that I thought were wonderful. I mean, all of these are wonderful compared to the kind of photography I do (more like iPhoneagraphy). Speaking of iPhoneagraphy, Kevin Cook of the MU got silver in the Feature category that we were watching and also placed gold in the Interpretative Project in which he used his iPhone to capture images around Philly. His iPhoneagraphy puts any white girl’s selfie to shame (I mean, that does a good job of doing that by itself). But, in all seriousness, it was interesting to such beauty, emotion, art and storytelling capacity coming from a device that usually promotes self-absorption. And, I think the true talent comes from that, using something that is unconventional to capture unconventionally beautiful images.

This once again invigorated my secret dream to be a world-reknown fashion photographer, something that is such a reoccurring pipe dream thanks to my interaction with photo-j at the J-School. Oh, don’t tell me “Veronica, you could do it if you really want to” because my craft needs so much work and writing is what I feel like I excel at anyways (honestly, I excel at talking but that is neither here nor there). But, in a way, the photos were doing their job. They were invoking strong, chill-inducing feelings in me. Some photos made me stifle laughter (I had to be quiet so they could judge), smile, feel a tinge of pain in my heart, be washed with sadness or just be in awe and excitement. The fact that MU was the backdrop for this gathering of art and the esteemed judges of it makes me feel so inspired by my school, which is something I have been needing lately. Just like photography, sometimes you need just need a new perspective to be inspired and make something beautiful.

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