By Nicole Gennarelli
This June, University Photographers’ Association of American celebrated its 50th anniversary, and during its annual symposium it introduced the UPAA Master of the Profession award. Gary Harwood, Visual Storytelling instructor in Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication and former Kent State University photographer, was one of the inaugural awardees.
According to the UPAA’s website, “To be eligible a member must be in good standing for 10 years, have a history of quality images in UPAA competitions, and exhibit dedicated service to the organization.” Each year the award will recognize two members. However, on this inaugural year it awarded five individuals, Jim Dusen (SUNY Brockport), Phil Szczepanski (University of Maryland), Steve Mangione (Buffalo State College) and Mark Philbrick (Brigham Young University), along with Harwood.
“The Board of Directors looked at the organization and saw several talented photographers,” said Board of Director’s President and photographer at Moraine Valley Community College, Glenn Carpenter. “After two years, we came up with an idea to recognize outstanding photographers and their photos. These photographers are good at what they do and dedicated to being a university photographer. Looking back at different photographs, we came up with about 18 people deserving this award and Gary’s name was close to the top.”
Harwood, a member of the UPAA and university photographer for 26 years, said the selection was a complete surprise to him. The organization based the award on his career of work over the years.
“Fifty years is a long time,” Harwood said. “To be among the first five awarded is an honor. I’ve always loved photography, and never thought I’d make a career of it. I’m glad it turned out the way it did.”
In our group, all the imagery is judged by the members. You receive the award from people who do the same thing as you, said Carpenter.
“They understand what was involved in making that photo,” he said. “My hope would be that any award(s) you receive from our organization, you would hold in higher regard. In the world of university photography these are giants, and Gary is one of them. While Gary produces beautiful and emotional work, he is also an educator and mentor.”
“Dive in with two feet and make it happen,” is the advice Harwood gives not only photography students, but any student, in order to achieve their goals.
“I think younger photographers, and any student for that matter, need to do what they love in order to achieve their goals,” he said. “Take internships, apply for scholarships, and enter contests. Do anything that would advance your career. Network and connect as much as possible, and take advantage of all the opportunities that profession offers you. Be passionate, be persistent and follow your dream. It will provide you with experiences you never thought you’d have.”
Nicole is a senior public relations major and a marketing assistant for the College of Communication and Information.