by Alli Inglebright
Calla Kessler was recently named Student Still Photographer of the Year by The White House News Photographers Association. The award is part of the WHNPA’s Eyes of History Contests, which showcases the best in visual journalism across still, video and multimedia.
Kessler, who graduated May 2018, has held internships at The Washington Post, the Palm Beach Post and the Omaha World-Herald. She also traveled to Nicaragua and Nepal as part of the Global Eyewitness team. Kessler is currently interning at The Washington Post in Washington, D.C., for her second summer.
“Winning the award was a wonderful welcome back to Washington,” Kessler said. “Awards aren’t everything, but they do motivate me to keep telling stories through photography. It seems to ensure I am doing something right.”
Kessler was part of the “Wounds of Whiteclay” depth reporting team, which won the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Journalism grand prize. The team covered issues surrounding the beer stores in Whiteclay, Nebraska, which helped fuel alcoholism on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The group was the first student team to win the grand prize.
Kessler decided to pursue a career in photojournalism because it gives her an opportunity to connect with people.
“Photojournalism is an amazing way to connect with communities and learn about people whose lives are greatly different from my own,” Kessler said. “It fosters in me empathy and patience. It teaches me how people’s experiences contribute to who they are as individuals.”
In 2017, Kessler placed first in the Hearst Championship Photojournalism contest for her story on a diverse family unit on San Francisco. Her story covered the lives of two fathers, Robbie McMillan and Marcus Keller, who are raising their 4-year-old daughter. Kessler had a day and a half to shoot and edit a story covering the theme “no place like home.”
Once she completes her current internship at The Washington Post, Kessler plans to stay in Washington, D.C., to freelance and possibly working for The Post in a full-time position.