HITravelTales’ Therese Iknoian wins photography gold at InFocus show

by Jun 6, 2023Awards

Chernobyl Exclusion Zone Abandoned Swimming Pool Night

Therese Iknoian has earned a gold medal for a photo that in part depicts what Chernobyl looks like today. The medal came from the InFocus Photo Competition in California’s Sierra foothills.

Therese Iknoian, co-founder at the Grass Valley-based travel blog HITravelTales.com, took home a gold medal in the 36th annual InFocus Photo Competition & Exhibit in Tuolumne County with an eerie black-and-white photo from the Chernobyl Nuclear Zone in Ukraine.

Chernobyl Exclusion Zone Abandoned Swimming Pool Night

The swimming complex at night seems haunted, with the sounds of things dropping from the ceiling but nothing in sight. This pool was actually used by staff for 12 years after the nuclear accident.

The same photo also won Best in Show at the 2022 Nevada County Fair photo contest.

“My time in the Ukraine is near to my heart, considering the awful situation there. I so badly wanted to return after my January 2020 trip when I took this photo, but then came Covid, and then came a war,” Therese said. “To bring attention to the Ukraine and its beauty is a great honor.”

The InFocus photo competition and show attracts talented photographers from around the state. This 2023 edition was the first that returned to a live show after the pandemic, bringing sightseers and photo fans to the historic Gold Country town of Columbia for the exhibit in the state historic park.

In addition, Therese took an honorable mention for her portrait of a Kenyan Maasai warrior in his hut.

Maasai Village Visit Warrior Portrait

Therese spent nearly two weeks in the Ukraine in January 2020, including four full days in the Nuclear Zone to see, experience and document the site in photographs. The visit was a powerful reminder of the devastation that occurred in 1986 and how Chernobyl looks today.

Both Therese and her husband and partner at HI Travel Tales, Michael Hodgson, have won numerous writing and photography awards, plus HITravelTales.com was named one of the top three independent blogs in 2022 by the North American Travel Journalists Association.

Therese and Michael, long-time California residents, have run HITravelTales.com for about eight years, during which time they have traveled to, photographed, and written about Germany, Morocco, Ukraine, Argentina, Antarctica and of course the United States. Together, they have been to all seven continents, 49 countries, and all 50 states, focusing on immersive travel that connects readers with the culture, food, history, people, and natural wonders of a destination.

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  • See more of Therese’s photos, available for purchase, by going here.

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