Shoot-Out provides photographers on-location learning opportunity

From the contest coordinator’s notebook: change, evolution the constant in student photojournalism

By Bradley Wilson
CMR Managing Editor

Twice a year, photojournalists come to the College Media Association’s national conventions to share ideas, to meet other college photojournalists and to visit another part of the country. And twice a year about 60 of them choose to learn by doing, participating in the CMA Shoot-Out, an on-site photo competition and critique, an event that has helped students as they begin their work as visual communicators.

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CMR Managing Editor Bradley Wilson is entering his second decade of work with CMA’s on-site “Shoot-Out” for student photojournalists.

Mark Watkins, a participant when he was a student at Georgia College and State University said, “Winning ‘Class Favorite’ at the Shoot-out in Chicago in 2012 was the moment I decided to pursue photography as a career. It was a challenge, and I remember thinking not just how a photograph communicates something, but for the first time how I can communicate something through a photograph. It seems a small distinction, but I think it makes all the difference.”

When I first started helping out with the Shoot-Out, in 2004, students still used film. The contest was limited by how many rolls we could afford to develop, 30. So it didn’t take long to move to a digital paradigm. In 2005, to be precise. Kansas City. The theme for the contest was “Kansas City Portrait.” Then as now, we challenged students to “to get outside that box.”

FIRST PLACE 2005: Nathan Lang, Johnson County Community College (Anne Christiansen-Bullers, adviser) — Kansas City’s 106th homicide of 2005
FIRST PLACE 2005: Nathan Lang, Johnson County Community College (Anne Christiansen-Bullers, adviser) — Kansas City’s 106th homicide of 2005

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