Jackson State University’s Department of Communications and Marketing team members, Charles A. Smith, photographer, and Kentrice Rush, social media associate, have won Photoshelter’s 2017 Libris Iconic Images Award.
Smith’s remarkable picture capturing the total solar eclipse, earlier this year, and Rush’s mesmerizing photo of JSU’s Sonic Boom of the South were among 17 images selected from over 300 submissions depicting scenes from all walks of life.
“These 17 images are a small sample of the stunning images created by our Libris clients this year,” said PhotoShelter CEO Andrew Fingerman. “To say we are proud to work with creative professionals of this caliber is an understatement. We are honored to help these teams get their work done quickly and easily, so they can tell their brand’s story and engage their audiences.”
Once Rush learned of the news, she was rendered speechless. “I really couldn’t form the words to express how happy I was. When I looked at my photo among the other photos, it was just a great feeling,” she said.
In contrast, Smith admits that he let out a boisterous victory shout after reading his congratulatory email. “I was elated and blown away. I had no idea. It was a last minute afterthought,” he says, noting that he decided to submit the photos after receiving repeated notifications about the contest.
Smith adds that he chose Rush’s photo because “her picture taken at the JSU and Southern football game really told the story of that day.” The photographer then said he remembered his snapshot of the solar eclipse and submitted it as well.
The Photoshelter honor appears to be even more rewarding for the pair since Smith has been serving as Rush’s mentor for the past two years.
“I started shooting football with him last year, but he started helping me with photography shortly after I began working here,” said Rush, who holds a master’s degree in business administration.
The petite and soft-spoken Rush discloses that she fondly refers to Smith as the “Mr. Miyagi” of photography. It is a reference to a character in the cult-classic, 80s film series “Karate Kid.” In the movie, Mr. Miyagi is a martial arts master who helps a bullied teen become a karate champion.
In regard to Smith, Rush said: “He’s just a great teacher. He’s so unselfish in the way that he teaches. He wants people to learn.”
Earlier this year, Smith had an injury that left him incapacitated and unable to work for a duration. The photographer, with twenty years of experience, leaned on his interns and mentees for assistance.
“I’m just thankful that while he was out, he gave me the opportunities to shoot by myself and trust me with assignments. I really appreciate him,” said Rush in a voice filled with emotion.
Smith, who received a bachelor’s in economics from Tougaloo College, hails from a family of teachers. Ironically, he reveals that he wanted no parts of the family business.
“Now, I’ve come to a place in my life where I find teaching is the most enjoyable experience that I have. I enjoy being on a college campus. I enjoy teaching students and colleagues or whoever wants to learn,” he said.
Smith goes on to mention that he had a photography mentor who is still very much a part of his life. “We talk at least once a week about photos, and he’s still giving me advice,” he said.
When it comes to the award-winning images taken by Smith and Rush, they both seemed to agree that timing and having an eye is important.
Rush said that when she took her photo, the game was delayed due to the rain. She soon sought shelter to protect the equipment, and she noticed that people were leaving the stadium. However, the band – The Sonic Boom of the South – kept playing despite the downpour.
“So, I picked up the camera and started taking pictures of them. The shot that was chosen was my favorite of all the shots because of the look on the drum majors face,” said Rush. “He was so focused and intense, and the band was playing behind him. He looked like he had control of the moment even though he had no control of the weather.”
Smith’s advice to up and comers: “Look at your life, your environment, you’d be surprised at the stories you can tell. Some people don’t realize that they have a great eye, so just pick up a camera and shoot.”
2017 Libris Iconic Images Awards winners include:
- ATP World Tour / Thomas Lovelock
- Baltimore Ravens / Shawn Hubbard
- California Department of Water Resources / Kelly M. Grow
- Cincinnati Reds / Kasey Williamson
- Colgate University / Mark DiOrio
- Empire State Development / Darren McGee
- Franklin & Marshall College / Deb Grove
- Jackson State University / Charles A. Smith
- Jackson State University / Kentrice Rush
- Mike Cohea / Johnson & Wales University
- MLB Photos / Alex Trautwig
- New York Jets / Dan Szpakowski
- New York State Executive Chamber / Darren McGee
- Portland Trail Blazers / Bruce Ely
- Sarah Matheson Photos / Sarah Matheson
- University of Florida / Bernard Brzezinski
- University of Idaho / Joseph Pallen
View the 2017 Libris Iconic Images here: https://trylibris.photoshelter.com/2017-iconic-images/