UM students honored in photography competition

UM students Rachael Henrichsen and Zachary Ordonez recently received honors at the College Photographer of the Year [CPOY] competition. Henrichsen was awarded the silver award in the Personal Vision category for her piece, “Finding the Way,” and Ordonez received an honorable mention in the Illustration category for his piece, “Organic Ambiguities.”

The CPOY competition, founded in 1945, judges over 7,000 images submitted by 250 student photographers from 50 colleges and universities worldwide. Students are awarded gold, silver, bronze and honorable mentions in 13 different categories.

“CPOY’s greatest value is educational – it encourages photographers to sort through and evaluate their own work and assemble the best of it to show – both to peers and to the working professionals who donate their time to judge the contest,” Rita Reed, director of CPOY, said. “Keeping pace with changes in the field of photojournalism, the judging has advanced over the years from prints to slides to the current digital format.”

According to Lelen Bourgoignie-Robert, associate professor of journalism and photography, the most important part of this competition is that it provides students with the learning experience of having to organize, prepare and present their work.

“I don’t place overall importance on whether a student wins or not,” Bourgoignie-Robert said. “The most important thing is that it requires students to evaluate their own work.”

It was Bourgoignie-Robert who encouraged Henrichsen, one of her students, to submit her work. Henrichsen’s winning photograph shows a male figure kneeling down in the ocean, the sun barely coming up. Henrichsen, a senior majoring in creative writing and minoring in business law, has been interested in photography her whole life. She has taken two photography classes at UM. However, she took the winning photograph spontaneously with no plans to send it to a competition.

“I didn’t plan on taking that picture; I didn’t tell [my friend] to pose a certain way,” Henrichsen said of her winning photo. “I wanted to take the picture to give it to [my friend], to show him the life and the light that I saw in him. I don’t even think that he knew I took the picture.”

Ordonez, on the other hand, who graduated in December with a degree in Motion Pictures and Photography, shot his winning piece as part of a series of photographs. According to Ordonez, the photographs show the human body, focusing on its shape and position, with the ocean as the background.

“I like photographing anything that catches my eye, and in a split second I know if it’s worth shooting,” Ordonez said. “If it takes longer than a second for me to decide, then it’s probably not worth photographing.”

Ordonez was also recently awarded first place in his category in a contest held by UM’s International Education and Exchange Program for study abroad photography.

Now that he has graduated, Ordonez plans to head west with his new Hasselbald camera and, in his words, “explore the unknown.”

Once she graduates in May, Henrichsen will join the Peace Corps, where she hopes to take many photographs and do a lot of writing.

For more information on CPOY, go to

Patricia Mazzei can be contacted at