Grass Valley travel journalists win three photography gold medals

by Jul 12, 2022Awards

Queen Of The Mara IFWTWA 2022 Photography Awards Gold Medal Winner

Michael Hodgson and Therese Iknoian win three gold medals, a silver medal, and two bronze medals in the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association 2022 photography awards.


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HI Travel Tales’ Therese Iknoian and Michael Hodgson continue their award-winning streak in 2022 with another round of multiple photography medals honoring excellence for travel photos that appear on the HITravelTales.com blog.

This set of awards comes from the non-profit group, International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association, with membership globally.

Hodgson and Iknoian were co-winners of gold medals in the portrait category, each for a slightly different photo of a Maasai warrior taken on a 2021 photo safari in Kenya. Iknoian’s photo (shown below) appears in the story, “Visiting a Maasai Village in Kenya, what to expect,” and Hodgson’s warrior photo appears in the story, “Why I love Kenya: For 43 years I dreamed of returning.”

Kenya Maasai Warrior In Hut Therese Iknoian

Hodgson also won a second gold, this one in the nature category for his image of a lioness prowling through the tall grass in Kenya (cover image above), which appeared in the story, “Photographing the Big Five while on an African photo safari.”

In addition to the gold medals, Hodgson took home a silver medal for his photo of the bar in the Redwood Room at the Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel, while Iknoian also scored a bronze medal in the urban landscape category for her image of the abandoned pool in Chernobyl, Ukraine, plus a bronze medal in the night category for her photo of star circles at Pemaquid Point Lighthouse in Maine, as well as an honorable mention in the food category for her photo of a yellow egg yolk dripping off an avocado toast at the Eagle Café in San Francisco.

“Capturing great photographs wherever we travel is very important to us, personally and professionally, and our readers and destination hosts frequently comment on the quality of our images and our stories,” Iknoian said. Each of the last four years, they have won awards for either photography or writing or both.

“We take great pleasure in telling impactful stories, both in photos and words, that will help inspire people to explore, travel and learn a bit about their world,” Hodgson said.

Awards annually for HI Travel Tales

In IFWTWA’s inaugural photo awards in 2021, Iknoian won a Best in Show for her gold-medal entry in the landscape division, as well as a silver in the food-wineries category, while Hodgson took home a gold for a people photo and an honorable mention for architecture. All winners and entrants in the first photography competition in 2021 can be seen here in a special issue of the association’s FWT magazine.


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These 2022 awards come on the heels of four others from the North American Travel Journalists Association. Those included a coveted bronze medal for overall best independent travel blog for HI Travel Tales. Individual awards were a gold for Iknoian’s photo essay on Maine Lighthouses, and two bronzes for Hodgson – one for the same Kenyan portrait as above and another of Therese sharing photos on her camera with Kenyan children in a Maasai village as they all laugh together.

Iknoian and Hodgson, both longtime journalists, have run HI Travel Tales for about seven years from their Northern California base. They have been to all seven continents, 47 countries, and all 50 states, focusing on immersive travel that connects readers with the culture, food, history, people, and natural wonders of a destination. They have taken home numerous medals for both photography and writing in several annual contests each year.

International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association, a non-profit established in 1981, is a global network of storytelling content creators. Members come from several dozen countries. 

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