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St. Louis Public Radio 2023 Teen Photojournalist Prize

2023 Teen Photojournalist Prize winners will be honored during a public reception at 7 p.m. on May 17, 2023. Register to attend.

The St. Louis Public Radio Teen Photojournalist Prize provides professional recognition, publicity, encouragement, hands-on training, and resources to area high school students who demonstrate a talent for documenting their world through photography.

The competition is open each spring to teens in Quincy, Ill., St. Louis, and Rolla, Missouri. Local schools and youth organizations throughout our listening area are encouraged to participate.

2023 Prize Winners

2023 Teen Photojournalist Prize Best in Show

Gemma Speichinger / Marquette High School

Marquette High School Football Coach Michael Stewart leads the team in a victory cheer on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022, after a 42-14 win over the Seckman Jaguars during a MSHSAA Class 6 District 1 football semifinal at the school in Chesterfield, Mo.

Senior Noah Schell playing in a concert. He is seen past another student holding a violin.

Best General News

Dana Zafarani / Parkway West High

Noah Schell, a Parkway West High School senior, focuses on the notes on Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022, during the school orchestra’s annual winter concert at Parkway West High School in Ballwin, Mo. Schell learned to play at age 8 from Mr. Wheeler, his elementary orchestra teacher.

A woman walks through the park. The lighting of the evening causes the rain to glow yellow

Best Landscape

Matthew Gilliard / Hazelwood West High School

My mom walks across Forest Park in the rain on Saturday, August 20, 2022, in St. Louis.

Best Feature

Chase Golem / Edwardsville High School

Special Education teacher Kayla Magruder endures a bucket of ice water dumped by her student sophomore Taleyia Grayer on Friday, March 10, 2023, at Edwardsville High School in Edwardsville, Ill. More than a hundred EHS students gathered outside to see their favorite teachers shiver as part of the Polar Plunge, a fundraiser that raises money for the Illinois Special Olympics. Magruder raised $200 out of the school's $3,982.

Best Portrait

Andrew Poertner / Francis Howell North High School

Fort Zumwalt North Senior Frank Marchesi stands next to his dog on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in front of his family’s property in St. Paul, Mo. Marchesi was diagnosed with Giant Cell Myocarditis on March 29 and had to receive a life saving heart transplant later that year, and then decided to take senior pictures to remember the tough year he had. He also wanted to celebrate being happy and healthy upon graduation.

Best Animal and Wildlife

Madeline Awad / Ladue Horton Watkins High School

White-Spotted Jellyfish (phyllorhiza punctata) are suspended in the water on Sunday, April 10, 2022, at the Johnny Morris' Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium in Springfield, Mo.

Best Sports Feature

Wendy Stephens / Clayton High School

The PASS Junior Vikings coach celebrates with one of his players on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, after a touchdown in St. Louis.

Best Sports Action

McKenzie Brown / Lindbergh High School

Lindbergh High School junior goalkeeper Madison Mertzlufft dives to make a save on Friday, April 7, 2023, during the first half of a varsity girl’s soccer match against Cor Jesu Academy at Lindbergh High School in Sappington, Mo.

Honorable Mentions


Honorable Mention: General News

Owen Wohl / Clayton High School

RoboHound teammates William Konradi and Rohan Webb quickly repair their robot in between matches alongside Coach Steve Beauchamp on Wednesday, March 8, 2023, during the first day of the FIRST Robotics St. Louis Regional Competition at Chaifetz Arena in St. Charles, Mo.

End of an Era

Honorable Mention: General News

Sadie Cotton / Francis Howell North

Francis Howell North junior Amber-Chelsea Kibera hugs senior Aair Reese on Saturday, June 4, 2022, after Reese’s graduation ceremony at The Family Arena in St. Charles, Mo. Family and friends were able to watch the ceremony and speak to the graduates after the ceremony ended.

Senior Toss

Honorable Mention: Feature

Aniya Sparrow / Francis Howell Central High School

Senior Evan Erickson shoots into the air enthusiastically as the Senior Showmen, the cheerleaders of the Powderpuff Game, toss him up on Friday, Sept. 22, 2022, during the Homecoming Pep Assembly at Francis Howell Central High School in Cottleville, Mo. Fourteen boys from the Class of 2023 performed a dance routine to different song clips from the Emmy-award-winning TV show “Stranger Things.” The routine drew a lot of laughs from the student section, the teachers, and even the administrators, who all loved seeing the boys put on their dancing shoes and hype up the crowd for Homecoming.

Bump n' Grind

Honorable Mention: Feature

Chase Golem / Edwardsville High School

Drum majors senior Lillian Armstrong, Jaden Hernandez, and junior Kayla Cooper, jump in the air together as part of the "bump and grind" on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, during a home football game against Belleville West Maroons at Edwardsville High School in Edwardsville, Ill. The celebration, done in the third quarter of home games, is a tradition of the Tiger's marching band and gets the students hyped for the rest of the game. "It's fun for the band kids and we always make the first one a big deal to the freshmen," Hernandez said. "We're like 'get ready for the bump and grind' but we don't tell them what it means or how to do it."

Volcanic Farming

Honorable Mention: Landscape

Walter Hurley / St. Louis University High School

A soybean field rises above the clouds on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023, as the Volcán de Acatenango and Volcán de Fuego tower over the Guatemalan village of Patzún.

A Window to the Mountains

Honorable Mention: Landscape

Mae Scott / Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School

The mountains tower over Yellowstone National Park on Sunday, July 24, 2022.


Honorable Mention: Landscape

Mekhi Brown / Pattonville High School

The St. Louis Cardinals play on Tuesday, June 14, 2022, in St. Louis.


Honorable Mention: Portrait

Maverick Shelp / Fort Zumwalt North High School

Sawyer James, an 8-years-old who has always loved to flip, jump, and fall, hangs from his favorite backyard play set on April 1, 2023, outside his home in O'Fallon, Mo. He loves to spend nice days outside getting dirty and learning new things.

My Reflection

Honorable Mention: Portrait

Ankita Pandurangi / Francis Howell North High School

Fort Zumwalt North junior Hailey Zhang contemplates her reflection in the mirror on Sunday, April 9, 2023, at the August A Busch Memorial Conservation Area in St. Charles, Mo. Zhang said she is very interested in fashion/designing and wanted the dress that she made to be shown as if it were in a fairytale.

Eagle Eye

Honorable Mention: Animal and Wildlife

Jaheim Magaki / Principia Upper School

An eagle sits a branch while looking at its feeder on April 6, 2023, at the St. Louis Zoo in St. Louis.

A Cardinal Rests

Honorable Mention: Animal and Wildlife

Eden Sands / Rolla High School

A Cardinal (cardinalis cardinalis) perches on a branch on Monday, April 10, 2023, in Rolla, Mo.

Backyard Owl

Honorable Mention: Animal and Wildlife

Angela Wirthlin / Clayton High School

A Barred Owl (strix varia) perches on a fence on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, in Richmond Heights, Mo.

Roaring Victory

Honorable Mention: Sports Feature

Will Huster / Kirkwood High School

Kirkwood senior Gabe Walker shouts with his teammates on Friday, Oct. 7, 2022, after a 49-7 record-setting win against Lindbergh High School in Sappington, Mo.

Lost in the Light

Honorable Mention: Sports Feature

Parker Smith / Francis Howell North High School

Brandon Reale performs a pre-game handshake with a teammate on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023, before a matchup against the Francis Howell Central Spartans in St. Charles, Mo. The game was senior night and Reale’s last game of the his high school career, marking his last handshake in a Knights jersey.

Sharp Settle

Honorable Mention: Sports Action

Sydney Davis / Liberty High School

Morgan Struttmann (#12) settles the ball in the air on Monday, March 20, 2023, during the Liberty High School’s home opener against the Francis Howell Vikings in Lake St. Louis, Mo. “Morgan has grown into a big leader for our program,” Liberty head coach Heidi Kleekamp said. “She’s hungry for goals, she’s our leading goal scorer.” While Liberty came up short in the game with a 3-1 defeat, this match was very important as it served to honor the memory of sophomore and soccer player Lydia Elking, who passed away earlier this year.


Honorable Mention: Sports Action

Maxwell Grellner / St. Louis University High School

St. Louis University High School senior Maksim Bely stares down a puck as a DeSmet Jesuit High School player winds up for a shot on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, at the Affton Ice Rink in Affton, Mo.

Sponsored by


Best in Show — $800 Visa gift card

First Place Categories — $200 Visa gift card each

All contest winners receive:

  • Master class with STLPR photojournalist Brian Munoz
  • Publication on stlpr.org and on STLPR social media
  • Display on Public Media Commons big screen
  • Exhibition at UMSL at Grand Center
  • Grand Prize and category winners will receive a framed print of their winning photograph

The Contest

  • Students will submit original photographs made between Tuesday, April 5, 2022 and Monday, April 10, 2023.
  • Entries should have a title, caption and personal reflection as outlined on the entry form.
  • Deadline: Monday, April 10, 2023 at 5 p.m.
  • No more than 3 photo entries per person.
  • Entries will be judged by a panel of award-winning local photojournalists and visual storytellers
  • Winners will be honored at the opening night of the gallery exhibit at St. Louis Public Radio on Wednesday, May 17 at 7 p.m.

Contest Categories

Judges will review entries for the following categories:

  • General News

    An issue-based or general news photograph. If you’re a photographer for your school publication — you can include photos created for student media in this category.

  • Feature

    A photograph that captures the human interest of daily life.

  • Sports Action

    A photograph that captures the spirit of a sports competition — individual or a team — through peak action.

  • Sports Feature

    A photograph that captures peak emotion by an individual, or team, through game reactions or emotions related to sport.

  • Portrait

    A photograph that captures a unique aspect of a person’s character or personality. You are able to pose or direct your subject in this category.

  • Landscape

    A photograph that captures the spirit of a natural environment but could also focus on human-made features or disturbances of landscapes.

  • Animals and Wildlife

    A photograph showing the beauty, detail and character of an animal or other wildlife. Please do not put yourself in danger while capturing these images.

Students can view excellent examples of these categories on the National Press Photographers Association contest page.

Contest Resources

Teachers and youth organizations can download these digital assets for handout and display:

Quincy area flyer

Rolla area flyer

St. Louis area flyer

So, what separates photojournalism from simply taking pictures?

Photojournalists can tell a story or make a statement through a single image. The images they capture have the power to transport viewers into a moment in time and show insight on a broader subject.

These images celebrate times of joy, capture times of anguish and find the beauty in everyday life. They also allow someone at home to not only know what is happening elsewhere but see it, too. Photojournalism requires patience, creativity and most importantly, curiosity.

2023 Contest Rules

Please review all of the contest rules before submitting your entries!

  1. No entry fee is required and all rights to images remain the property of the photographer. See the copyrights and permissions disclosure for full details.
  2. By submitting to the Contest, the entrant agrees to abide by all Contest rules.
  3. All entries must be original works by the entrant. Unauthorized use of another’s image will result in disqualification.
  4. To be eligible, entries must have been made by the entrant between Tuesday, April 5, 2022 and Monday, April 10, 2023.
  5. The contest is open to local high school or home-schooled students.
  6. Each entry must be submitted with an entry form detailing the title, caption and a personal reflection; no more than three entries per participant are allowed.
  7. Judging: Entries will be blindly judged by a panel of professional photojournalists and media professionals, taking into account: the moment captured, image composition (lighting/color/layering/focus), the creativity behind the image, the caption, and the student reflection provided. The decisions of the judges are entirely their own and are final and binding.
  8. Photo Editing: Color images should replicate what the human eye experiences. Because this contest focuses on photojournalism, artistic manipulations are not allowed.

    Examples of prohibited techniques include the exaggerated use of color saturation, contrast, and burning and dodging methods. You may not remove or add objects or subjects to a photo in part or whole. You may not use software capture filters. Please do not add masks, borders, backgrounds, text or other effects to your entry.

    Allowed editing includes minor cropping, exposure correction, white balance, color toning, sharpening and contrast adjustments. Changing a color photo to completely black and white is allowed — but not spot coloring.

  9. Captions: Captions, or cutlines, are the words that go along with an image to explain what’s happening in the photograph to provide more context. Without a caption, the viewer might get the wrong information or the wrong impression about what’s going on in the photo.

    Captions must have all the necessary information included in the first sentence of the photograph — who/what/when/where/why. Make sure to include the names of identifiable people in your photograph. Photo captions should try to follow Associated Press style.

    An example: John Smith, a 14-year-old student from Maryville, Ill, plays the saxophone on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2022 at Woodland Park in Collinsville, Ill. Smith learned to play saxophone at age 10 from his grandfather James, a local jazz legend who has performed around the world.

  10. Prizes will be awarded as follows: Best in Show: $800; Best in Category for General News, Feature, Sports Action, Sports Feature, Portrait, Landscape; and Animals and Wildlife Category: $200 each
  11. Winners will be notified of the results by phone and/or text message.
  12. Applicants should submit their applications electronically at stlpr.org/prize.

Copyrights and Permissions Disclosure

By submitting photos to the St. Louis Public Radio Photojournalism Contest, the entrant grants to The Curators of the University of Missouri and St. Louis Public Radio license -- with respect to photographs of which the entrant is the sole creator and copyright owner and/or comments, titles, captions, or reflections made by the entrant -- to use, reuse and publish the same, in whole or in part, in any and all media, now or hereafter, for the purpose of the Photojournalism Prize contest and promotions specific to the contest; and if appropriate, to use my name and pertinent education and/or biographical facts in relation to the contest entry.

The entrant agrees to defend, indemnify, save harmless, and fully and forever release The Curators of the University of Missouri, their Officers, Agents, Employees, and Volunteers, from any and all liability, claims and demands arising out of or in connection with the use of photographs and/or comments, titles, captions, or reflections including without limitation any and all claims for copyright infringement, libel, or invasion of privacy.

The entrant certifies that any and all Models and subjects were treated with respect and dignity and that no people, wildlife or the environment were harmed by the creation of my photograph(s). The entrant also certifies that any and all models and subjects who are identifiable in the photographs gave me consent to use their likeness. In order to receive cash prizes, winners will be required to provide personal information for tax purposes to comply with university policy.

For questions regarding the contest rules, submit an email to: hello@stlpr.org.

The Judges

  • Brian Munoz Headshot

    Brian Munoz

    Brian Munoz is a staff photojournalist and multimedia reporter at St. Louis Public Radio. He most recently worked at USA TODAY as a visual storyteller and editor focusing on politics and sports, including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. His work has appeared in publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, and The Atlantic. Munoz's journalism — both written and visual — has been recognized by state and national organizations, earning him the designation as a 2019 ProPublica Emerging Reporter.

  • Brian Heffernan Headshot

    Brian Heffernan

    Brian Heffernan is the digital editor and special projects editor at St. Louis Public Radio. Before coming to the newsroom in April 2018, Brian worked as a reporter and photojournalist for a variety of publications including Al Jazeera America, BBC, St. Louis Magazine, Riverfront Times, San Francisco magazine and the Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette newspapers in South Carolina.

  • Robert Cohen Headshot

    Robert Cohen

    Robert Cohen is an award-winning staff photojournalist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Cohen's images of unrest in Ferguson following the police shooting death of Michael Brown contributed to the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News Photography awarded to the newspaper’s photo staff. In addition, he was a 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist for his work documenting the plight of homeless families living in suburban motels during the recession. Cohen is also a member of the Scripps-Howard Editorial Hall of Fame.

  • Neeta Satam Headshot

    Neeta Satam

    Neeta Satam is a freelance photographer and a National Geographic Explorer based in St. Louis, MO and Mumbai, India whose work explores the themes of cultural assimilation, the human condition, and the environment through photography. In 2021, she joined the International League of Conservation Photographers as an Associate Fellow. Her personal history and cultural identity have always influenced both the issues that draw her as a visual journalist and the work itself.