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Press Democrat’s Kent Porter wins award from National Press Photographers Association

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Press Democrat photojournalist Kent Porter has been named Photographer of 2019 for the western United States by the National Press Photographers Association.

The Georgia-based association announced Porter’s win via Twitter on Friday. The award is the culmination of a monthly competition, where candidates can submit up to 12 photos published that month in several categories, including portrait, feature and sports action. Each month, the photos are judged by peers from other newspapers across the country, and the candidate who has earned the most points and has placed in at least two different categories wins first place for the year in their region.

This is Porter’s third time winning the regional award in the past four years — he previously won in 2016 and 2017. In 2018, he placed second in the region. This year, he also placed 16th nationally.

“It feels really good to represent the newspaper — to represent the community,” Porter said.

Porter, who has worked at The Press Democrat for more than three decades, was one of nine photojournalists selected for the regional honors. The western region that Porter placed first in includes California, Hawaii, Nevada and Arizona.

Porter thanked his family for supporting him in his career, adding that he couldn’t have succeeded without them. He said the main reason he began entering the monthly contests was to put The Press Democrat’s photo department “on the map,” and show the world the quality photojournalism this local newspaper does. And he emphasized the talent he works with in the newsroom — photojournalist Beth Schlanker was also honored as 19th in the western region.

“It’s a great testament to the quality and the bar that we set here every day for journalism and photojournalism in particular,” said Chad Surmick, the Press Democrat’s director of photography. “To win this award means that we’re telling stories that are really important to this community and we’re telling it in a world-class fashion.”

Of all the photos Porter submitted in the contest last year, he said his favorite was one he took during the Kincade fire at the end of October. In the image, a meteor streaks across the night sky as strong winds create an ember cast on a tree that burned in the fire.

“The meteor set it apart,” Porter said, explaining what distinguished the photo from others he took during the fire. “It was just a stroke of luck.”

You can reach Staff Writer Chantelle Lee at 707-521-5337 or chantelle.lee@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @ChantelleHLee.

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