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NPPA 'Kids Choice' Award

Youngsters from "Focus on Mentoring" listen to
chairperson Maria Mann as she explains the judging
process. Photo by Horacio Villalobos


By Doug White, Special to

The NPPA Best of Photojournalism Contest judges received a little extra help with their duties from a few budding photographers Wednesday.

A group of youngsters participating in a photojournalism mentorship program at the Tampa Housing Authority visited The Poynter Institute to mingle with their older colleagues.

Melanisha Hamilton, Julicia Cantave, and Ramon Rosado are three of the students enrolled in "Focus on Mentoring," a community-based program designed to introduce students to the world of photojournalism.

After the professional judges evaluated "The Arts" category on Wednesday, the students viewed the images and offered their opinions.

After 15 minutes of scrutiny, the students came up with a unanimous and definitive decision. They chose a picture by photographer Roger Turesson of Expressen as their first place winner. (The professional judges chose a photo by Michael Laughlin of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.)

Best of Photojournalism Contest chairperson Maria Mann was impressed with the students' interest in photography.

"It was so refreshing to see them looking at the pictures so seriously," Mann said. "They understood quickly how hard the job was. They were so genuine in their responses. It was such a treat to have them here. It was great for us."

Judge Michele Stephensen, director of photography at Time Magazine, agreed. "They were very self-assured," said a smiling Stephensen. "I wasn't that self-assured when I was their age. I was very proud of them. They knew what
they liked and that should be encouraged."

Stephensen added that the infusion of youthful enthusiasm was greatly appreciated after a tough day of viewing thousands of heart-wrenching images.

"We all feel it's important to give back," she said. "That's one of the most rewarding things, working with young people."

"Focus on Mentoring" is the brainchild of photojournalist David Handschuh and Mary Fox, a manager at Planergy International, Inc. With the cooperation of the Tampa Housing Authority, the program got underway in January.

In addition to their trip to Poynter, the students also recently toured the Tampa Tribune News Center with Joseph Brown, director of photography.

Here is the students' evaluation of 'The Arts' category:
Category Description: A picture that captures the quality, production or expression of the arts. The realm of what is beautiful or of more than ordinary significance. Examples include the performing arts, fashion and architecture.

First place: Roger Turesson, Expressen
Second place: Astrid Riecken, The Washington Times
Third place: Fred Squillante, The Columbus Dispatch

Judges' comments on the winning picture:
"I like it because of the ancient pictures in the background and how he (the subject) is taking steps. It's an image that makes him look good. It was the greatest picture we've ever seen." -- Julicia Cantave, age 11.

"It's good and to the point. It makes me feel like going to a museum." -- Ramon Rosado, age 16.

"It's funny!" -- Melanisha Hamilton, age 11.

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