Teen wins national yearbook photo contest

Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald
Jasper High School junior Emily Huddleston was overcome with emotion Tuesday as she was congratulated by classmates on the two awards she received in a national yearbook photography contest.


JASPER — Tuesday morning, Emily Huddleston didn’t know she was a nationally-awarded photographer.

The Jasper High School junior and her peers who are enrolled in Evan Elrod’s yearbook class snaked through the school’s hall to the main entrance for what they thought would be a group photo commemorating their year.

Photo by Emily Huddleston
Jasper junior Hannah Welp ducked under a limbo bar at a school pep rally last winter. The photo was an honorable mention in the national Jostens student life and traditions category.

Murmurs spread when students saw local media members lined up outside the school’s front office. Then, Indiana Jostens representative Cam Bardwell emerged and spelled out the ruse.

Huddleston won two major awards for photos she took and submitted to this year’s national Jostens contest: an honorable mention in the student life and traditions category and the first-place prize in the portrait category.

The annual competition celebrates the creative and innovative talents of student photographers from schools across the country, and more than 4,000 youth and teens submitted entries this year. The contest empowers students to positively capture their school experiences. It featured 10 categories that also include photo illustration and athletes in action.

Photo by Emily Huddleston
Jasper High School junior Jack Greener dressed as George Banks in the school's musical production of "Mary Poppins." The photo won first place in the national Jostens portrait category.

The submitted photos were ranked by a panel of four judges who are professional photographers and photography instructors.

Minneapolis-based Jostens has produced school yearbooks for more than 60 years. The company also sells other memorabilia, such as class rings and graduation packages.

In the 16 years that Bardwell has overseen the area — which includes 100 schools in the lower quarter of southern Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky — the local Jostens representative said a student inside the region has never placed or even earned an honorable mention. Until now.

“I think I was just kind of confused,” Huddleston said with a smile, moments after crying tears of joy and being engulfed in a group hug with her fellow yearbook staffers. “They were some of the better photos that I’ve taken — that’s why I entered them — but we had the expectation of if we get honorable mention that was a big deal. But I didn’t think I’d win first place.”

Her student life and traditions photo captured Jasper junior Hannah Welp limboing at a school pep rally last winter, and her portrait entry showed junior Jack Greener dressed as George Banks backstage before the school’s production of “Mary Poppins.” The shots were named “How Low Can You Go?” and “Forever Young,” respectively.

Huddleston received plaques for each award, and she will receive $500 for her first-place portrait.

“This is such a huge honor,” Jasper yearbook adviser Evan Elrod said in a press release. “We have had such talented students enter this contest year in and year out throughout many schools in the area, and for one to finally be recognized from JHS is just spectacular.”

Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald
Huddleston wiped tears from her eyes after receiving news of the awards.

Huddleston said she has not decided if she will pursue a career in photography after she graduates next year, but loves the art form and plans on always taking pictures as a hobby.

She’s a co-editor of Jasper’s yearbook, “The J.” Students in the school’s interactive media course are responsible for populating and maintaining several online media products in addition to the yearbook.

Huddleston credited Elrod with pushing her to become a better photographer through class work and emboldening her to chase high-quality images, and noted that she is especially fond of going behind the curtain at musicals and other theatre productions to capture moments that aren’t seen on stage.

“The J” will release its 2017 edition to students at the beginning of next school year.

Huddleston is the daughter of Tammy and Joseph of Jasper.

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