It’s the Photographer, Stupid!

When industry mavens get together to ponder the future of photography, all too often the discussion centers around megapixels, file formats, sensor configurations, optical design, storage options, and other technical minutiae. Of course there’s nothing wrong with those prognostications, particularly since many of us are techno-nerds. It’s also true that sophisticated tools undoubtedly play an important role in a photographers results.

Technical innovations notwithstanding, I was recently reminded of the true source of optimism for our craft while perusing the amazing winning entries in the 66th Annual College Photographer of the Year (CPOY) competition—co-sponsored by Nikon and the University of Missouri. The judges reviewed 14,216 still images and 208 multimedia projects submitted by 721 student photographers from 132 colleges and universities in 21 countries, and the results are truly outstanding.

The 66th College Photographer of the Year is Brad Vest who was awarded Gold in the Portfolio category as well as in the Documentary and General News categories. Vest, from the University of Ohio was also the Bronze winner in the Portrait Category. Nikolai Linares of the Danish School of Journalism received the Runner-up College Photographer of the Year award with Silver in the Portfolio category. Students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill swept the multimedia awards, taking home the Gold in all three categories.

The CPOY competition was founded by Cliff and Vi Edom in 1945. While photographers enter the competition with the hope of winning a prize and the recognition that goes with it, the prestigious event also encourages participants to carefully evaluate their work before presenting it to the peers and working pros who judge the contest.

I encourage everyone to take a look at the results of the CPOY competition by going to I’m confident you will agree that the key to the future of photography is the young photographer of today.