Jasper photographer wins national award for portfolio

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By John Seasly • The Herald (Jasper) staff writer

A photographer at The Herald (Jasper) has been named the Small-Market Photo­jour­nalist of the Year in a national photojournalism contest.

Dave Weatherwax’s award is the fourth won by The Herald and its staff in the 2012 contest, following wins in the photo editing categories.

The annual contest, now in its 11th year, is sponsored by the National Press Photographers Association and is hosted by Ohio University.

Visit http://bop.nppa.org/2012 to view the winning portfolios. 

Weatherwax, 30, is a Michigan State University School of Journalism graduate who worked at the Jackson (Mich.) Citizen Patriot before joining The Herald in January 2010.

In addition to his role as a photographer, Weatherwax manages The Herald’s photojournalism department, editing and planning photos for the newspaper.

He was an intern at The Herald from January to June 2006.

His Saturday feature package, “Coping with Parkinson’s,” about Jasper resident Dennis “Red” Keusch’s daily battles with Parkinson’s disease, remains one of Weatherwax’s personal favorites.

The story, published April 30, 2011, was intended to be a straightforward profile but took an unexpected turn when Red suffered a debilitating fall, complications of which led to his death.

“I loved that story, working on that story, because it gave me a chance to spend time with Red,” Weatherwax said. “It reminds you how minimal your own struggles really are.”

The photographs of Red were among those that Weatherwax submitted for the contest.

The small-market category of the competition was open to photographers at any newspaper with a circulation of less than 100,000. The Herald’s circulation is 11,500.

Having his name mentioned alongside other expert photographers was humbling, Weatherwax said.

“At the same time it’s not just about, you know, myself or what I did as a photojournalist,” he said. “The best thing about what we do is that it takes community participation.”

Weatherwax said the award belongs as much to The Herald, its readers and those residents who allow themselves to be photographed as it does to him.

Weatherwax lives in Jasper with his wife, Sarah, and two children, Madeline and Cohen.