Journalism major honored by White House News Photographers Association
Senior Al Drago won top honors in the association's 2015 "Eyes of History" contest and will travel to Washington, D.C., in May for a black-tie gala.
An Elon University senior has been named student photographer of the year by the most prominent organizations for photojournalists in the nation’s capital.
The White House News Photographers Association honored Elon University senior Al Drago this month as part of its 2015 “Eyes of History” student still photography contest.
Drago is invited to attend the association’s annual “Eyes of History” gala in May at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C. The annual black-tie event draws nearly 1,000 guests, including government dignitaries and industry celebrities.
“I was shocked and honored that I was awarded this,” Drago said. “It’s very cool to be not completely on the same level, but in the same realm, as these photographers I’ve admired for years.”
The journalism major from Durham, N.C., was selected following a public judging, hosted at the National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C. The contest’s judges were Matt McClain, a staff photographer with The Washington Post; Allison Shelley, an independent documentary photographer and multimedia journalist; and Brendan Smialowski, a photojournalist based in Washington, D.C.
The chief photographer for "Elon Local News" and former photo editor for The Pendulum, Drago has gained several accolades in recent years. The National Press Photographers Association, Society of Professional Journalists, and North Carolina Press Photographer Association have all recognized his work.
Drago has interned at several newspapers, including The Baltimore Sun, the (Raleigh, N.C.) News & Observer, The (Durham, N.C.) Herald-Sun and the (Burlington, N.C.) Times-News.
“One single photograph can tell an entire story,” he said of his passion for photojournalism. “A photo stands the test of time, to be hung on a wall as something you can see at any point.”
The WHNPA is a nearly century-old nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the efforts of Washington’s professional photojournalists. The WHNPA aims to provide professional and educational outreach to its members and the community through scholarships, programming, an annual competition and a celebration of the industry at its annual gala.