The Indiana News Photographers Association recognized Evansville Courier & Press photographer Denny Simmons as Photographer of the Year for the third time.
The association, composed of news photographers from across the state, announced winners of its annual photo competition recently at Ball State University.
Courier & Press staff photographer Erin McCracken won first place in the feature story category for her photos of an Evansville family that was in the process of adopting a second child from Haiti when a massive quake shook the country.
Simmons, 47, of Newburgh, is a California native who joined the Courier & Press staff in August 1999 after a stint in the Navy and graduating as a photojournalism major in 1993 from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Simmons said he focuses on his community and its people.
“This was a really good year for meeting great people,” he said. “I happened upon a lot of people who were just themselves in front of me and allowed me to show who they were.”
“It always amazes me how people allow us into their private lives and allow us to tell their story in pictures,” he said.
While many of Simmons’ images focus on children at play, he doesn’t shy away from recording the harsher realities of life. He was awarded first place by the judges in news story competition for his photos of the funeral in January 2010 of Marine Cpl. Jamie Lowe in Fairfield, Ill.
“Our staff are community-oriented photographers, and the pictures they make try to tell a story of their community,” said Courier & Press Visuals Editor Kevin Swank. “They try to capture the average person and capture a moment … that conveys what we’re trying to communicate to the reader.
Recently, Simmons made a picture of a man burned by a meth lab explosion that has drawn both praise and criticism.
As a community journalist, Simmons said it is his role to show what is happening in the community.
“We can’t just show the good and tell everybody the truth by saying everything is all rosy and never negative,” he said.
For a complete list of winners, visit indiananewsphotographers.org.