It could be called the photo of a lifetime.
A lion, its mouth open in a huge yawn and a large pink tongue sticking out, is the subject of junior photojournalism major Kelsey Dubinsky’s photo taken in South Africa. She has entered the piece into the B&H Wilderness Photo Competition.
The competition includes categories such as land mammals, aquatic, birds and landscape/scenery, voted on in both a professionally judged vote and popular choice vote. A safari trip for two to Botswana is the grand prize for the winner of the judges’ vote, and a safari trip for two to Namibia is for the winner of the popular vote. These trips are valued at $22,000 and $16,400, respectively.
Dubinsky’s photo is leading the competition with almost 150 votes. Voting is open to the public until Feb. 28, 2014.
“It’s an honor to have my picture on the top page right now,” Dubinsky said of the B&H website, where her photo can be seen and voted for.
Dubinsky said the reason she chose to enter this photo was the memorable story of its creation. Capturing the yawning lion was unexpected, she said. She had her Canon EOS 5D Mark II and zoom lens on hand when her group’s tour vehicle suddenly came upon the lion, a surprise to guides and visitors alike. She was about 20 feet away from her subject.
“It was one of those moments that everyone looked at each other and they were like, ‘Did you get that?’ and I did,” Dubinsky said with a smile.
The photo was taken in Kruger National Park, toured by students during this past summer’s School of Media and Communication’s Study Away program in South Africa. The program is available to any student, regardless of major.
The South Africa program was recently recognized as the winner of an EPPY Award from Editor & Publisher for Best Use of Social Media for News Services with under 1 million unique monthly visitors, in recognition of the TU South Africa Tumblr page.
Lezlie McCabe, the assistant director of SMC’s Study Away programs who accompanied the 17 students on the trip, said an accolade like this represents what the program means for students.
“To be able to put that on your résumé, I think that’s amazing,” McCabe said. “They’re going to different sites that a typical tourist would go to, but they’re going at it in a completely different way to learn about whatever story they’re going to tell.”
Nicholas Cutrona, a junior journalism major who participated in last summer’s South Africa program, said the trip provided him with a résumé boost along with a memorable experience.
“The biggest thing is just the content you can show to a possible employer,” Cutrona said. “[Although] it was just fun as well.”
Dubinsky said her ideal career is to be a photographer for a publication with a focus on nature, such as National Geographic. Her peers agreed that her yawning lion photo would be a beneficial portfolio piece to be marketable to future employers.
“It’s really just like anything else you would see in National Geographic,” Cutrona said.
A close encounter with big cats wasn’t the only highlight of the visit to South Africa, students said. Activities included exploring wildlife, safaris and cage diving with sharks. Dubinsky said it was an experience she won’t forget.
“It was an amazing trip and everything that we did was really interesting,” Dubinsky said.
South Africa was Dubinsky’s first and so far only study abroad experience, but she expressed her enthusiasm in wanting to return to the area “with or without study abroad” – a motivating factor in entering the competition, she said.
If she were to win, Dubinsky said she would bring her mother on the trip to an African safari as her guest.
“The whole time I was in Kruger [National Park] the first time I went, I was thinking about how much I wished she was there with me because I knew she’d like it,” Dubinsky said.
Dubinsky said she believes the Temple community is her greatest asset in entering and succeeding in the photo competition. She said she plans to spread the word by having the picture posted on SMC’s Facebook page.
McCabe is also confident that the Temple community will play an instrumental role in helping Dubinsky to be recognized for her work.
“I think it depends on getting the word out so the whole Temple community rallies behind her to help her win,” McCabe said. “We have the numbers.”
Albert Hong can be reached at email@example.com.