Nate Swanson, photo editor for The Post, placed second in the Hearst Journalism Awards Competition for the photojournalism category.
Swanson is a junior studying photojournalism at Ohio University. Nate has been with The Post for three years, starting on the photography staff and becoming photo editor.
For the competition, he submitted four news photos and four features photos, some from his personal portfolio and others from his Post portfolio. In placing second, Swanson received a $2,000 scholarship and an automatic entry into the 2021 Championship round of the Hearst Journalism Awards Competition.
The Post: Why did you decide to apply for the 2020-2021 Hearst Journalism Awards Competition?
Swanson: It's so funny because this was the last day the competition was going on. I knew I was within the window of the application process for it, and then I said, “You know what, I need to do this.” So I just quickly went through my portfolio of my best photos and I chose the four news photos and four features photos (and) submitted it to the VisCom faculty who would be choosing only two candidates from the pool of applicants. I was totally amazed that they chose me out of the other applicants.
TP: Tell me about the award you won.
S: So I got the email weeks later (and) I honestly forgot I entered the competition because it was such a long span of time since when I submitted my photos. I got the email saying I placed second, and I won a $2,000 scholarship award for it that would go toward my tuition. So that was very nice. I seriously never would have expected this.
TP: How did it feel when you found out you won the award?
S: I was totally, dare I say, flabbergasted in the best way possible. I had to read over the email a few times to make sure I was reading my name and reading the correct award competition. I was like, “Oh my gosh, I actually got a high rank in this competition. That’s insane.” Because it's a national competition out of like more than 100 applicants. I just thought so much about where I stand at this moment versus where I started: this introverted kid from out of state and I didn't know anyone and I didn't have any backgrounds or any connections in the journalism field or anyone in the media, and I just really worked my butt off to try and prove to myself and family that this is worth it. I love being humble a lot, but it really does feel nice to win something. Especially in such a field where there is, now more than ever, a lot of scrutiny towards those in journalism and photojournalism. I think this is just a nice silver lining of being in such a field.
TP: How has The Post helped you further your photojournalism career?
S: It just dangles the opportunities in front of me like a bone in front of a dog. I started out as a freshman and I showed up to a meeting here or there, and I just sat there and I remember looking at our director of photography at the time and I was like, “Oh, it would be so cool to be where she's sitting, but that's not going to happen.” And then I don't know what clicked in me where I just thought, “Keep going to these meetings. Keep shooting. You don't know what could happen; keep doing it and have fun with it.” And I've just been given a slew of opportunities and assignments and projects to work on with The Post and just having all these connections and amazing colleagues within The Post has brought more to my life than I ever would have thought it would. I'm not exaggerating: The Post has been probably the best thing that has happened to me throughout college. It just solidified more than anything that this is the right field for me and this is what I think I’m meant for. You ask freshman year Nate, “You're going to be working as the photo editor...” I would not have believed you. And I'm sitting here in this moment saying that and it still doesn't really feel like it's something I'm actually doing. But it's nice though; it's nice to see yourself grow.