Photojournalism summit to take place at NU this weekend

Ally Mutnick

Illinois photographers will convene at Northwestern this weekend to compete in a Best of Photography contest.

The Midwest Photo Summit, a three-day photojournalism conference, will begin Friday.

The Illinois Press Photographers Association sponsors the summit, which received more than 1,200 entries from about 100 different photojournalists in its professional and student contests. Entries will be judged Friday and presentations by speakers will take place Saturday and Sunday, said Allison Williams, a freelance photographer and chair of the Best of Photography competition.

“It is to recognize the best in photojournalism in Illinois,” she said. “It is two days of inspiration, basically.”

Williams and IPPA President Rob Hart invited photojournalists from different fields to judge the entries in the professional category. The judges this year are Sol Neelman, a Pulitzer Prize winnerand sports reporter; Mona Reeder, an international photojournalist for The Dallas Morning News; and James Gregg, a staff photographer for the The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Winners in the professional portfolio category will receive a Nikon camera and $500. Second place will win $300 and third will win $200. The IPPA will also give out two scholarships to select entrants in the student competition.

The judges, in addition to other photojournalists, will also speak on Saturday. This year, Hartsaid he worked to add a “Freelance University” segment on Sunday where speakers will share financial tips and advice for freelancers. Hart said he made it a goal to turn the summit into a learning experience rather than just a contest by adding more speakers.

“It’s bigger and it’s more focused this year,” he said. “It’s achieving our goals of offering more educational opportunities. We need to take it upon ourselves to start educating people.”

Hart said he also asked photo editors from the Chicago Tribune to come look at students’ portfolios and offer them advice.

Jacqueline Klimas (MSJ ’11) was encouraged by her photojournalism teacher, Prof. Candice Cusic, to submit photos to the contest.

Klimas submitted her favorite work – a photo story about a gay writer and social activist in Chicago who she shadowed for six weeks during an assignment for Cusic’s class – to the Student Best of Photography contest.

Because she now works in Washington, D.C., Klimas cannot make the summit, but she said she is excited to get feedback on her photos.

“It’s always nice to have other people critique your work,” she said. “Everyone has a different opinion.”

Klimas said she wishes she could attend the conference for the opportunity to learn from other photojournalists.

“Photojournalism is a really small community,” she said. “I think having a support group of people who are putting themselves in a similar situation is really helpful.”

Williams said she feels the conference can create a sense of community for freelance photojournalists who do not have a consistent work environment while also providing a learning experience for those attending.

“It’s a great way to recognize great work that’s being done in our state and by our peers,” she said. “It’s also a great thing to just come and see a ton of work and see people who are leading in the industry and hear what they have to say.”

[email protected]