The collective work of photojournalism students at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has achieved an unprecedented 7th-place ranking among a field of 75 universities throughout the United States in the prestigious Hearst Photo One News and Features national photo competition.
The recognition marks the first time UTC photojournalism students have achieved a collective ranking in the competition, and this year also brought the highest-ever individual rankings for the work of UTC student photographers. UTC was the smallest university in the contest.
Troy Stolt, a Chattanooga senior majoring in integrated studies and who is completing a fall 2019 internship with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in Missouri, took 10th place individually. Photos by Elian Richter, a Hendersonville, Tennessee, senior majoring in communications, took 17th place in individual scoring. Rankings are based on accumulated point values assigned to entered photographs.
Stolt’s and Richter’s individual rankings are unprecedented for UTC student competitors. The students are taught by UTC lecturer of communication Billy Weeks, a longtime professional photojournalist formerly director of photography and graphics at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Their photographs, along with those by fellow UTC student photographers, were among a field of 138 entrants from institutions including Michigan State University, Arizona State University, Western Kentucky University, the University of Missouri and the University of North Carolina.
Stolt said he “really didn’t know anything about photojournalism until he took professor Weeks’ course.”
“I think about that a lot because, if there had been a different class with openings, maybe I wouldn’t be on the path that I am now,” Stolt said. “Billy has gone above and beyond what is to be expected of a professor when it comes to me. He saw something in me that I never saw in myself and has spent countless hours teaching me—sometimes he taught me about photography and reporting, but more often than not he was teaching me to be a better human being.
“He really believes in not only me, but all the students he teacher and their potential to be great someday.”
Richter also praises Weeks, calling him “an amazing photojournalism professor.” He said he intends to pursue photojournalism as a career once he graduates in May.
“I hope to work for a newspaper for a couple years to get the experience that I need and then after that see where the job takes me,” Richter said.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the annual Hearst Journalism Awards and the 50th anniversary of the addition of photojournalism as a category. Today, the competition also includes writing, radio, television and multimedia content, and a total of $700,000 in scholarships, matching grants and stipends are awarded.
The 2019 photojournalism judges are Carolyn Cole, foreign national photo correspondent, The Los Angeles Times; Mark Morris, independent visual consultant, California; and Luis Rios, director of photography, San Antonio Express-News of Texas.
The 104 member universities in the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication with accredited undergraduate journalism programs are eligible to participate in the Hearst competitions.
More on the competition and the full list of 2019 winners is here.
Following are photos by Elian Richter and Troy Stolt entered in the 2019 Hearst photojournalism competition.