Tullahoma News Sports Editor Zach Birdsong can add another award to his growing collection, as he took first place in Photojournalism in the 2020 Photo is Light World Photography contest.
Birdsong was invited to participate in the contest by the event organizers after several of his photos received honors from the International Photography Awards back in December.
“After seeing how I had done at the International Photography Awards, I wanted to see how I would do during this competition,” Birdsong said. “Plus, the winning submission in each of the categories received money, so that didn't hurt in my decision.”
According to its website, the Photo is Light competition is a worldwide contest that seeks to enhance the work of photographers. With annual editions, it receives registrations of photos for six categories: architecture, fine art, photojournalism, nature, landscape and people.
The competition received entries from 66 countries, and the jury consisted of nine photographers from around the world.
Birdsong said he submitted two photos for the contest but only one entry placed. He added he was surprised to place at all with everything that happened in 2020 and what is continuing to happen today.
“It's still mind-boggling to me that I was awarded first place in this category,” Birdsong said.
His winning entry “The Problem is Not Solved” is a photo of Cowan native Terrance Martin speaking into a bullhorn in front of 5-year-old Jade Battle at the peaceful protest march that took place in Winchester last June.
This is not the first time his photo has received praise, as it received an honorable mention from the International Photography Awards and was selected in juror Susan White’s top five submissions for IPA.
White spent more than 25 years as the photography director of Vanity Fair magazine and currently serves as the photography director on a global interiors project for WeWork.
Birdsong said it continues to amaze him that his photo still receives attention after taking it at the march.
“I had no idea that I was taking an award winner. I was just trying to capture moments at the march,” Birdsong said. “I thought it was a solid photo and one that I was definitely proud of.”
He said he didn’t know what the reaction for the photo would be initially when he posted it, but once it went viral locally he wanted to see how good it was and entered it into photo competitions.
Birdsong thanked the organizers for reaching out to him to enter and the judges for selecting his photo.
During his time at The News, Birdsong took first place for Best News Photograph in the 2020 Tennessee Press Awards for his photo of former Tullahoma High School wrestler Jane Allen hugging coach Jenna Morris after winning her semi-final bout in overtime. He also got fourth place in Best Sports Photograph as well. Birdsong has also won two other first place awards from TPA.