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2010 Recipients – The James Alan Cox Foundation for Student Photojournalists

2010 Recipients

High School:

Cory Hackbarth Photo Sample

Cory Hackbarth
North Tahoe High School
Tahoe City, California

Peggy Heidelberger-Smith, a teacher and the head of photography at North Tahoe High School, wrote a truly memorable line about her student, Cory Hackbarth, in a reference letter to the Foundation. “Cory,” she writes, “told me his best friend is his camera.” One of the Foundation’s high school scholarship winners, Cory has been fascinated with photography from an early age. “Photography helps me live creatively and push the scope of my experience for adventure and passion.” For Cory, it is the perfect medium to capture the beautiful and vibrant area in which he lives. His submitted images, of the region around Lake Tahoe, are either stunning landscape shots, or dynamic action photos of people having fun in the area (in particular, skiing). Striking and vivid, they make the viewer want to visit and participate. Ms. Heidelberger-Smith again sums it up perfectly when she says that his “ability to capture action, nature, serenity and ‘the moment’ makes Cory’s work unique.”

Locke Hassett Photo Sample

Locke Hassett
Seeley-Swan High School
Seeley Lake, Montana

Locke Hassett, another high school winner, feels that photography is a way to show people the beauty of the world in which they live. It is also, according to his application essay, a way to encourage people to travel and see the world. Like Cory Hackbarth, Locke’s home is in a stunning part of the country, Montana, and he loves to share images of his state with others. He has also been fortunate to do some traveling, to places like South America, and photograph new environments and cultures. His submitted images, of the lovely Swan Valley in Montana, or from his trip to Ecuador, are indeed beautiful and and truly do capture the magic of these areas. Locke, as well as wanting to depict the beauty that surrounds him and “share the experiences I have been blessed with”, is also interested in creating the unusual, unique shot. Mary Stone, a teacher at his high school, says that Locke is “one of those kids who chooses to think outside the box and can generally be counted on to come up with an interesting application of the material being studied.”

Dan Lynh Pham Photo Sample

Dan Lynh Pham
Booker T. Washington High School
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Another high school scholarship winner, Dan Lynn Pham, sees things a little differently than most. When taking photos, her eyes are drawn to the unusual, beyond the typical scene or subject matter. On a recent trip to France, for instance, Dan was more intrigued by the people she saw – and often, the poverty she encountered – than the standard postcard images. “I ended up with more photos of the people on the streets that I saw then its beautiful architecture or common tourist sites.” Two photos from this trip, that she submitted with her application, stand out and exemplify this perfectly. One, of an elderly chalk artist, shows his craggy, weather-beaten face, juxtaposed in front of his beautiful art. The other, an almost, sweet, loving portrait, is of a homeless man, asleep on the street with his two dogs. Both are beautiful photos, but clearly have a deeper, more profound meaning. As Robert Wakeley, a photography teacher at her high school, states, “Beyond being the model student, Dan has proven herself to be intensely creative and unique in her approach to projects.”

Jack Sorokin Photo Sample

Jack Sorokin
Columbia Senior High School
Maplewood, New Jersey

Jack Sorokin has always loved photography, but an experience last spring strengthened his admiration for the field and his desire to make it a career. Jack, who is another high school scholarship recipient, participated in a protest against severe school budget cuts. While it was a meaningful event for him at the time, the photographs he took there made it even more powerful upon later review. Reexamining the images, several of which he submitted with his application, he noticed details, such as facial expressions, that told him “more about the event than I had previously understood.” He clearly saw how his “work as a photojournalist can illustrate the importance of an event such as this.” Larry McKim, a high school art teacher, is impressed not only with Jack’s talent, but also his determination to learn more and succeed. A dedicated and extremely motivated student, Jack is “one of those rare students who self-initiates projects, works on them at home and brings them in the next morning for my response. I feel that Jack’s commitment to art is great and this focus will take him far.”

Molly Strehl Photo Sample

Molly Strehl
Trinity High School
Euless, Texas

The Foundation’s final high school winner, Molly Strehl, has been working on her photography skills for many years now. While eager to become proficient with different techniques and equipment, she has also learned what is truly important for a good photo. “I have been taught the three most important photo tools,” she says, and they are “the eyes, the mind, and the most important – the heart.” Molly’s submissions, while extremely varied in both subject matter and style (a black and white photo of an elderly man, an action shot of a basketball player, a colorful image of a ride at a state fair), adhere to these important principles. They are beautiful, thought-provoking, and most importantly, heartfelt. Jeff Grimm, a teacher at Trinity High School who also works with Molly on the school’s photography staff, says she is “one of the top 10 or 15 students of my 33 year career in education.” “Clever, self-motivated, funny, responsible, humble, intuitive, direct, strong and resourceful”, she is a proud addition to the Foundation’s alumni of talented scholarship winners.


Anna Bratnick Photo Sample

Anna Bratnick
Kent State University
Kent, Ohio

Anna Bratnick, who is the Foundation’s college still photography award winner, is a student at Kent State University in Ohio. Her submitted work, which is quite varied and, as Anna says, was chosen to reflect “different things I have experienced throughout my life”, demonstrates her keen eye and ability to cover a wide range of subjects and styles. A particularly striking piece is her mesmerizing photograph of a man working in a horse barn. A black and white photograph, Anna has imbued it with beauty and elegance: the light coming through the window, the dramatic shadows cast against the barn, the man’s fluid movement as he lifts a bale of hay. Gary Harwood, a lecturer and author at Kent State, is very impressed with Anna and says that her work, like that of the best photojournalists, “displays depth and artistic style”. A talented and hard worker, she can reach, Mr. Harwood believes, “the highest levels of achievement.”

Isaac Easley
Arizona State University
Phoenix, Arizona

Isaac Easley, one of four winners in the college video category, is already highly respected for his work, by both his professors and those working in the field. Christopher Callahan, the Dean of Arizona State’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, states that “I have known few students who possess Isaac’s maturity, intelligence, passion and dedication.” Craig Fouhy, the Sports Director/Anchor for ABC15 in Phoenix, says that he “is a quick study and easily transitions from one project to the next.” Isaac’s passion is sports reporting and both of his submitted videos involve intriguing stories about athletes. Both pieces are, at times, fun, moving and, of course, extremely informative. His video about the Harlem Globetrotters captures the essence of this celebrated team, while the video about Matthew Betzold, a mixed martial arts amputee fighter, is truly motivational and perfectly illustrates Matthew’s determination and will to succeed, despite the odds. “It was a story,” Isaac says, “that needed to be told.”

Jessica Hodder
University of Miami
Coral Gables, Florida

Jessica Hodder, another winner in the college video category, says that when she is shooting, she is able “to connect to people I wouldn’t have otherwise met, experience new places and activities and learn about my subjects, while being able to accurately, and more importantly, tell their stories.” As a photojournalist for the University of Miami’s newspaper, as well as a photographer for the school’s yearbook and a university magazine, she is constantly striving to both tell and learn about new, interesting subjects and stories. This is exemplified by the fascinating videos she submitted with her application. One, about Burmese pythons invading the Everglades, is an intriguing look at a little-known phenomenum. Her other submission is a moving piece about autistic youngsters enjoying a day at the beach surfing. Jim Virga, a lecturer at her school, says that, as a storyteller, “Jessica has the rare ability to use a variety of tools and technologies to get the job done.” More importantly, though, Jessica is “a sensitive person who shows respect for her subjects, and approaches her projects with the highest of ethical standards.”

Sean Patrick Lewis
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California

Another college video winner, Sean Patrick Lewis knows the power a photojournalist wields. As he states in his application essay, “They say a single picture speaks a thousand words, and with 30 frames a second, the video news photojournalist says a lot.” Sean Patrick Lewis’ videos do just that. His submissions to the Foundation, about a grafitti “sting” in Anaheim and the gift bags handed out at the Academy Awards, are informative, engaging and utterly entertaining. While having a knack for storytelling, he is also hard-working and completely dedicated to his chosen career. Cheryl Kunin Fair, the News Director for KABC in Los Angeles, says that when Sean traveled to Haiti several years ago to cover Southern Californians helping in the aftermath of the earthquake, he went without access to a car, or even a hotel. In fact, he often had to sleep on the ground at night. His colleague, according to Ms. Fair, remarked that “Sean had left the US a boy and had returned a man who had succeeded in the face of very difficult challenges.”

Laura Palmisano
Arizona State University
Phoenix, Arizona

Laura Palmisano, a video winner from Arizona State University, has strong feelings about photojournalism and her intended contribution to this field. “I feel that a powerful image hits you in the stomach and then reaches your head. It leaves an impact and impression. I want my work to leave an impact and impression in the eyes and minds of my viewers.” Her two videos, while very different, are both informative, beautifully produced and leave a lasting impression in the viewer’s mind. The first, about a young glass blower apprenticing at a Scottsdale studio, is a striking and artistic piece, full of colorful images. The second, about a co-op bike shop in Tempe, highlights the work of a unique and fun non-profit organization. Sheilah Britton, a director at Arizona State’s Knowledge Enterprise Development group, has worked with Laura for several years and is impressed with her skills. She is able to cover a wide range of subject matter, “from student entrepreneurs to accomplished musicians and algal scientists” with “a keen eye and a burning curiosity.”