Therese Iknoian places 3rd in Washington Post Travel photo contest

by Sep 9, 2020Awards

Camel Silhouette Sahara Washington Post Travel Photo Contest Award Winner
From 1,200 photographs, Therese Iknoian’s photo taken in the Sahara in Morocco won third place in the 2020 Washington Post Travel photo contest.

Therese Iknoian knew the announcement was coming, but to wake up Sept. 9 and discover she took third in the prestigious 21st-annual Washington Post Travel photo contest left her a bit breathless.

“What an unbelievable honor this is to be third from so many great photos,” said Therese. “I take my photography seriously but have always considered myself in first order to be a writer. To be recognized by the journalism pros at the Washington Post for a photograph means more than anything.”

Therese, herself a former daily newspaper journalist, placed third for her photo of a young camel driver at sunset in the Sahara (winning photo above). In the photo, the camel driver was silhouetted against dark lines of sweeping dunes and an orange sky. He and his camel Ali Baba framed another group on a sand dune in the background. The driver’s name was Mustafa, and he said he was 20. He had dimples in his cheeks and a shy smile. Not much English, but all Therese had to say was “Mustafa! Photo!” and he knew to stop or wait.

“I found framing another group … with Mustafa and Ali Baba brought a new depth to the experience,” Therese told the Post, “yet still expressed the tenderness that he had for his two camels.”

Therese and her husband and partner at HI Travel Tales, Michael Hodgson, spent nearly a month in Morocco in September 2019, taking endless photos of the culture, people, vistas, and cities to create meaningful stories about the North African country they continue to add to and to post photos on the HI Travel Tale’s Instagram feed.

The annual Washington Post Travel photo contest in 2020 attracted 1,200 entries. Each photographer could enter only one photo, with the sole qualification being that entrants are amateurs. In adhering to photojournalism standards, photographs may not be heavily manipulated and may only be adjusted “to achieve color balance that reflects the scene as” it was observed.

This is a practice that Therese subscribes to, emphasizing reality in her travel, street, night, and story-telling photographic style. “I want to represent a scene as it truly is, a person as he or she really looked, and a landscape or city as it honestly appears,” she said. “With a degree in journalism and after working for years at daily newspapers, great amounts of processing manipulation are just not my style or belief.”

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Sahara Photo Shoot With Therese Iknoian

Therese Iknoian works with trip guide and model Habib to capture images that will tell the story of a Bedouin in the Sahara.

Three winning photos and 10 honorable mentions in the Washington Post Travel photo contest were selected based on originality, creativity and skill as judged by Washington Post Travel staff and photography professionals. Normally, judges sit in a room together and analyze all of the entries. This year, however, with staff mostly working remotely due to COVID-19, the judging was done virtually and electronically, making the process very different from the prior two decades.

Both Therese and Michael have won numerous writing and photography awards, plus their HI Travel Tales blog was named one of the top six independent blogs in 2018 by the North American Travel Journalists Association.

“We got a record number of entries. Did we mind looking at images of so many far-flung locales? Not at all,” wrote the Washington Post in its Sept. 9 announcement. Looking at “these images was in many ways a trip of its own. Travel photography transports us as sure as travel does.”

Learn more about HI Travel Tales here, or and find out more about Therese here and Michael here. Subscribe to the HI Travel Tales newsletter here to access premium content, more photos, and discounts only available to our Subscriber Club members.

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