Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Portfolio Update 2009

What a year! With our country's new administration came the introduction of the stimulus program and things for the photo/video crew at the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) have been crazy ever since! From bridge repairs to paving projects and bike/pedestrian improvements to light rail extensions, ODOT has been one of the nation's leaders in putting people back to work. As one of ODOT's aerial photographers, my workload has increased as well but the construction season offered many opportunities for documenting interesting projects (a select few will be highlighted here soon). On a more personal level, the most significant event occurred early in the year and it's eloquently described below by ODOT Public Affairs Specialist Sally Ridenour for Inside ODOT:

When your work is recognized and praised by the best in the industry, that’s saying something. People are saying a lot about the work of ODOT Photographer Gary Weber.

Weber, a six-year employee in the Photo-Video Services Unit, received two awards in the 2009 American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials "Faces of Transportation" photography contest. He won first place in the "Celebrating Achievements" category and first place in the "Connecting Communities" category.

The AASHTO contest, held annually, recognizes achievements in transportation related photography that represents the positive effects of transportation on individuals and/or communities. Karen Jones-Jackley, communications manager with Major Projects Branch, nominated Weber’s photos from the OTIA III Elk Creek Tunnel Bridge project on Oregon 38 near Elkton for the contest. Entries were received from almost every state and Weber won two of the six categories.

The "Celebrating Achievements" photo, a picture of a worker raising the American flag at the opening of the Elk Creek Tunnel Bridge, was praised for "its striking simplicity and strong theme." The "Connecting Communities" photo, showing ODOT contractor Slayden Construction’s Larry Gesher accepting an award from a young Elkton resident, was honored for its "strong sense of community."

Contest judge Allen Appel, a nationally recognized photographer and author, gave Weber’s photos high marks for composition and subject matter.

As a former photojournalist, Weber likes to approach his work like he’s covering a news story.

"The project itself was very interesting to cover," said Weber. "It lent itself to great photos."

In a congratulatory note to Weber, Director Matt Garrett praised Weber’s consistent quality work on behalf of the agency.

"Your work reflects your commitment to providing a glimpse of the real people and places that make ODOT stand out among other transportation agencies," Garrett said.

In his spare time, Weber teaches photography classes and often tells his students, "You’re only as good as your last picture." Well, judging from these awards, Weber must be pretty good!

As my photo blog enters its fourth year of publication, I'll continue to post stories and topics that are relevant to contemporary newsphotographers as well as articles and examples to supplement the courses (Newsphotography:Exposed and the Focus on Photography Series) I teach at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, OR. Thanks as always for your interest!
P.S. Special thanks to ODOT Public Information Officers Kevin Beckstrom and Sally Ridenour for all their help and support!