Santa Monica College student Brandon Wise – who never owned a camera until two years ago -– has been named winner of the College Photographer of the Year competition by the Press Photographers Association of Greater Los Angeles. The honor came with a $1,000 award and a brand new Nikon digital camera with lens.
Wise, photographer and managing editor of SMC’s student-run Corsair newspaper, beat out competitors from two- and four-year schools throughout the LA area. It was the first time an SMC student has won the contest, although SMC students have been named runners-up in the past.
Wise, 24, of Santa Monica, started taking photography classes at SMC in 2006 after a friend of his died and left him his Nikon FG, a film camera. He enjoyed portrait and landscape photography his first year, but in spring 2007 took his first photojournalism class.
“It was just a hobby until I found photojournalism, which became a passion,” Wise said.
Entry into the competition required Wise to submit a wide range of photos in such categories as sports, spot news, feature photo, and photo essay. All but one of the images he submitted were printed in the Corsair.
“Brandon exhibits a lot of talent and the kind of drive that makes a photographer succeed,” said Gerard Burkhart, Wise’s photojournalism professor.
While at SMC, Wise has also discovered another passion: anthropology. And he hopes to wed the two passions with his ultimate goal of shooting pictures for National Geographic.
In the meantime, he plans to transfer in 2009 to a four-year university, eventually earning a doctorate in anthropology while continuing to be a photojournalist.