Photographers document ‘Gateway to the South’

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College Media Shoot-Out 2018

The cool weather and drizzle didn’t stop 29 photographers from submitting images in Louisville as part of the annual Photo Shoot-out for college photojournalists.

Andrew Walter of Eastfield College said, “I liked how free the theme was in that as long as you believed your image fit the theme of ‘Gateway to the South,’ you could capture an image of anything you found newsworthy.”

Zahn Schultz of Central Washington University said, “It challenges participants to think critically and put the skills they have learned into a new and unfamiliar environment. It’s also a ton of fun, getting to explore a new city and find new and different perspectives camera in hand is an absolute blast.”

Pooja Pasupula, whose first image place second, echoed those thoughts.

“It forces you to step into the shoes of what professional photojournalists do every day. As college photojournalists, we’re really used to just taking pictures of the same sorts of people or things around our respective campuses that our editors tell us to shoot. We’re not often forced to step out of our comfort zone into a whole new territory foreign to us, and fish for stories ourselves. The Shoot-Out helps train you to become better and less shy about interviewing people. It also gives you a reason/motivation to go out and find stories that you normally wouldn’t think to need to.”

Schultz’ first image placed first in the competition judged by 39 professional photographers, college media educators and scholastic media advisers. Of the 39, 12 ranked Schultz’ image first, more than any single image in the last decade.

One of the judges, Evan Semón, a professional photographer in Denver, said, “This is exactly what I believe a Trump supporter looks like. If this were a fashion shoot of what a Trump supporter looks like this is perfect. This photos moves. The flag aids in giving this photo a sense of energy that without it the photo wouldn’t have. It tells the story in only a few seconds of looking at it.”

The photographers had only two days from the time they received the assignment until the time they had to submit images for a large-group critique.

Schultz said, “My biggest challenge was trying to get a sense of what it’s like to work/live in Louisville in just 48 hours. I had to talk to people and get their thoughts and opinions on living in the city so I could accurately represent the culture and vibe of a city I have never been to before.  It pushed me out of my comfort zone and caused me to interact with people I otherwise wouldn’t have.”

Pasupula said he also had challenges largely related to the gloomy weather during the first full day of the convention.

“It was also really cold and rainy for most of the convention, so the shooting conditions weren’t ideal, and I almost gave up, because it seemed useless. But as fate usually has it with journalists, there’s always stories to be found everywhere, even in the places you think will have the least. You just have to search hard enough.”

And while it’s a competition, it’s also a learning experience.

Schultz said, “I learned that you have to go and find your story, and it won’t just come to you. Trying to represent an entire city in just a photo is really tough, and being able to translate such a broad topic into just one image takes a lot of creativity and quick thinking. I learned to be dynamic and not to go out with the mindset of only shooting one idea, because anything can lead you in a different direction and you have to be willing to stray from the path.”

His image of a Trump supporter waving a flag in the street resonated with one of the judges, Mindy Wiedebusch, journalism adviser at Graham (Texas) Junior High School.

“Right now politics is a hot topic,” Wiedebusch said, noting that her top choices focused on the images that fit the theme. “Trump is liked more in the South than anywhere else and it could be considered a division line. The South is a working-man’s land. I like the way the lights in the background draw attention to the man.”

Pasupula said what he learned really had to do with being a visual journalist, a visual reporter.

“Strangers are really open and nice if you know how to crack them open and have genuine conversations with them,” Pasupula said. “The best types of interviews/photos come from ones where you make your subject feel comfortable, and let them know that you’re their friend that they can talk to without judgment.”

Walter said, “No matter the circumstances for a photo assignment, weather or otherwise, you must be prepared for anything and ready to react to any situation. The Louisville Photo Shootout … it gives [students] the chance to go out and explore the world that will eventually become their workplace.”

Paul Glader, an associate professor of journalism, media and entrepreneurship at The King’s College, really focused on the learning.

“The shootout is a fantastic way for journalism students to sharpen their photojournalism schools from seasoned pros and top j-profs on the topic,” Glader said. “It’s a great chance to shoot in a new terrain and environment the way a correspondent might drop into a new environment. Students get to learn by doing and then reviewing and discussing what they did.”


  • First place — Zahn Schultz, Central Washington University, Jennifer Green, adviser
  • Second place — Pooja Pasupula, University of North Carolina — Charlotte, Wayne Maikranz, adviser
  • Third place — Zahn Schultz, Central Washington University, Jennifer Green, adviser
  • Honorable mention and class favorite — Wesley Parnell, The King’s College (New York), Paul Glader, adviser


  • Sam Oldenberg, adviser, Western Kentucky University
  • Robert Muilenburg, adviser, Del Mar College (Texas)
  • Bradley Wilson, adviser, Midwestern State University (Texas)

Amber Billings, Bernadette Cranmer, Bretton Zinger, Brian Hayes, Cary Conover, Deanne Brown, Debra Klevens, Evan Semón, Evert Nelson, Griff Singer, Ian McVea, Jane Blystone, Jed Palmer, Jeff Grimm, Jim McNay, John Skees, Katherine Kroeppler, Kyle Carter, Kyle Phillips, Laurie Hansen, Leslie Shipp, Lisa Stine, Makena Busch, Margaret Sorrows, Mark Webber, Matt Stamey, Mindy Wiedebusch, Mitch Ziegler, Mitchell Franz, Sam Oldenburg, Sherri A Taylor, Spencer O’Daniel, Thomas E. Winski, Thomas Kaup, Tim Morley, Tom Fox, Tripp Robbins, Yuk-kwong Edmund Lo

Go to Flickr to view the images.

Created with flickr slideshow.