St. Louis Public Radio

04/18/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/18/2024 04:10

These St. Louis-area teens are sharing their community through photography

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These St. Louis-area teens are sharing their community through photography

St. Louis Public Radio | By Fontella Bradford
Published April 18, 2024 at 5:00 AM CDT
Luke Wendel
Lindbergh High School
Best in show: Mother Bird -A mother bird squashes a ladybug to feed her three babies in south St. Louis County.

Judges have selected eight winners of the 2024 St. Louis Public Radio Teen Photojournalist Prize, including Lindbergh High School senior Luke Wendel, who won the Best in Show award.

"This year's grand prize image was honored for being a great demonstration of documenting moments in your community, superb visual aesthetic and patience," said Brian Munoz, St. Louis Public Radio staff photojournalist and interim digital editor. "As educators, one of the concepts we strive to emphasize in visual storytelling is that of intentionality, and Luke did just that."

Other category winners include:

  • Best general news: Senior Joshua Deichman of Ritenour High School
  • Best landscape: Senior Ankita Pandurangi of Francis Howell North
  • Best feature: Senior Mya Willis of Hazelwood Central High School
  • Best portrait: Senior Ava Carson of Nerinx Hall High School
  • Best animal and wildlife: Senior Bayley Rowe of Nerinx Hall High School
  • Best sports action: Senior Thomas Krueger of Chaminade College Preparatory School
  • Best sports feature: Sophomore Vincent Hsiao of Ladue Horton Watkins High School
Ankita Pandurangi
Francis Howell North High School
Best landscape: Rainy Days in the Smokys - A fisher stops a boat on Dec. 26, 2023, while on a lake nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. Few boats were on the lake because of the foggy and rainy weather.

The contest received more than 225 student entries from 27 high schools, plus home schools in Missouri and Illinois.

"The submissions this year had a sense of wonder, showing us judges the intimate portraits of friends and loved ones, the ups and downs of athletics and how nature interacts with humans," said STLPR photojournalist Eric Lee. "The wide breadth of imagery impressed me and proved that this generation of photojournalists are empathetic, caring and thoughtful with their work."

In addition to the grand prize and category winners, judges awarded 15 honorable mentions in the seven contest categories. Cristina Fletes-Mach, judge and STLPR visual communications specialist, said choosing the winners took intense deliberation.

"I was very impressed with the level of talent throughout the entries in the teen photojournalist prize," Fletes-Mach said. "I could see how the entrants were really 'seeing' the world around them and transforming it into memorable images. All of our entrants should be proud of their work as they made picking winners a very, very difficult process."

Bayley Rowe
Nerinx Hall
Best animal and wildlife: Never Back Down - Hattie, an Australian Working Kelpie, faces off with a cow during the St. Louis Herding Club's cattle herding dog trials at Purina Farms in Gray Summit.

Honorable mentions

  • Animals and wildlife: Senior Owen Wohl of Clayton High School
  • Animals and wildlife: Senior Ankita Pandurangi of Francis Howell North
  • Landscape: Junior Ellie Hopen of Washington High School
  • Landscape: Sophomore Gideon Weinberg of Kirkwood High School
  • Landscape: Junior Murllin Bender of Gateway Science Academy
  • Portrait: Senior Karissa Simmons of Francis Howell High School
  • Portrait: Junior Kylee Smith of Montessori Adolescent Program
  • Portrait: Sophomore Vincent Hsiao of Ladue Horton Watkins High School
  • Sports Action: Senior Karissa Simmons of Francis Howell High School
  • Sports Feature: Junior Austin Griffin of Francis Howell North
  • Sports Feature: Sophomore Brayden Cook of Granite City High School
  • General News: Sophomore Jack Auer of St. Louis University High School
  • General News: Senior Raina Straughter of Francis Howell Central High School
  • Feature: Junior Rachel Brazier of Parkway West High School
  • Feature: Senior Ava Carson of Nerinx Hall High School

View all the winning and honored images at

Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
A visitor views photographs displayed for the St. Louis Public Radio Teen Photojournalist Prize last May at St. Louis Public Radio's headquarters in Grand Center.

The exhibition

All 23 winning photos and honorable mentions will be featured in a framed gallery exhibition and giant screen display in the Public Media Commons at St. Louis Public Radio. The exhibition kicks off with a celebratory reception for the honorees and their guests at 7 p.m. May 14. STLPR members and the general public are invited to attend.

At the gallery opening, the best in show winner will receive an $800 gift certificate, and category winners will receive $200 gift certificates.

Photojournalism masterclass

Category winners and honorable mention recipients are invited to a masterclass with Brian Munoz, STLPR photojournalist and interim digital editor. For the past two years, the class has been open on a first-come, first-served basis to all of the contest participants.

"One of our main goals in this masterclass is to help young photojournalists think more deeply about how they compose their images and what those decisions communicate about the subjects and characters in their photos," said Brian Heffernan, STLPR interim news director and contest judge. "Technical skills are important, of course, and we spend time on that, but we mostly focus on developing a photographer's greatest tool - an eye for composition and capturing moments, not a fancy camera."

The 2024 judges

The STLPR Teen Photojournalist Prize judges included:

  • Whitney Curtis, Washington University senior photographer and videographer
  • Eric Lee, STLPR photojournalist
  • Cristina Fletes-Mach, STLPR visual communications specialist
  • Brian Munoz, STLPR interim digital editor and photojournalist
  • Brian Heffernan, STLPR interim news director

The St. Louis Public Radio Photojournalism Prize is an annual award and educational program, with entries accepted each spring. This year's contest was made possible by SonyElectronics, Carol House Furniture and St. Louis Public Radio supporters.