A well-traveled dream catcher
About a month ago the 2017 contest winners for the National Newspaper Association's Better Newspaper Ediotrial Contest came out by Publishers' Auxiliary, a trade publication for newspapers across the country. As I was flipping through the special section, I was amazed at what I found on page 7.
It was nearly a three-quarter page color photo that I took a few summers ago at the Steele County Free Fair of Hannah Mundt, then 14, of the Pratt Commandoes 4-H Club. She was taking a snooze nestled right up next to her dream catcher - a prize-winning Brown Swiss Cow affectionately named Hawaii.
My photo was one of 16 published in this national publication. This has never happened to me in my many years as a journalist.
Earlier last fall, I won a first place award for best feature photo in the National Newspaper Association Contest for weekly newspapers with circulation less than 3,000. In making the selection, judges commented, “Great shot of a sweet moment. Well framed so that the relationship between the human and the animal is captured.”
Just last week Publisher’s Auxiliary published the rules for the next contest in 2018 in an effort to stimulate newspaper editors and publishers to enter their best stories and photographs of last year. And once again what to my wondering eyes appeared but Mundt’s photo. This time it was much smaller than the first run, but still fairly good-sized.
This was an exciting moment for me considering that entries poured in from 37 states and 160 newspapers sent in a total of 1,654 entries. Of those entries, 117 newspapers were selected as winners and received a total of 475 awards. The honors were given out back in October in Oklahoma. However, I did not attend.
Finding award-winning photos is no easy task. Of all the thousands of photos I shoot every year, only a handful actually make it into the newspaper to begin with. Those that win awards are even less.
I recall the circumstances surrounding Mundt’s cow photo. I was walking around the Steele County Fair with my youngest daughter, Cailyn, then 9 years old, when she stopped me in my tracks and said, “Dad, there’s a photo you need to take.” She pointed to a girl curled up by her cow on top of the straw in the dairy building.
I didn’t waste any time pulling out my camera and snapping away trying to get that perfect shot for our special fair coverage. Little did I know Mundt’s dream catcher would later become published nationally and win a national award.
As you might imagine, I’ve got my kids well trained in keeping their eye out for photos that will be of interest to readers in the newspaper. Sometimes I think they get tired of me always being on the prowl for great photographs. But, as I remind them, you never know when the great shot is going to smack you in the lenses.
I love photojournalism. It’s what I started out doing nearly 40 years ago back at my hometown newspaper while in high school. It excites me to take great quality photos and share them with my readers.
It’s time for me to go in hot pursuit of finding some more human-interest photos that readers can enjoy and treasure for years to come.