JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO (Mar. 14, 2017) - - The Army has announced the winners of its annual photography contest featuring the works of a cross-section of Service Members, Family members, Retirees and Civilians. The 2016 Army Digital Photography Contest was opened last December and judges considered online submissions from installations around the world, in two divisions: active duty and other Army Morale, Welfare and Recreation patrons.

Winners were selected in each of seven categories: animals; design elements; digital darkroom; military life; people; still life; and nature and landscapes.

The best photographs were selected from 4,059 entries by judges involved in the digital automation field. The artists were awarded recognition and cash prizes of $300 for 1st place, $200 for 2nd place and $100 for 3rd place in each category and each division.

Contestants were allowed to enter and win in more than one category.

"This is my second year competing," said Sgt. First Class Brian Freeman, a special operations medic stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., who landed first and second place in the digital darkroom category for "Falling to Fly" and "Secrets Beneath."

The digital darkroom allows for the combination and merging of multiple images to achieve the desired overall composition.

"The hardest part is [translating] the ideas I have. I have a book and write the concept down even before having an image to work with," said Freeman. "'Falling to Fly' came out of a life-lesson with my daughter, trying to visualize and teach how everything that happens, good and bad, happens for a reason."

As a senior medic, Freeman has deployed four times to Afghanistan, Iraq, Africa and Germany. "I'm about to retire and hope to work in this field," said Freeman. "I'm motivated by determination -- to know how to make my vision become real, and to be the best."

The purpose of the contest is to recognize the artistic eye of members of the Military community for their simple and true captures of garrison life anywhere around the world. One Soldier found inspiration while traveling in South America.

"The contest was recommended to me by my budget analyst, because of images she'd seen on my Facebook page," said Capt. Andrew Matwijec, commander of the 40th Military Police Detachment, Fort Sill, Okla., and first place winner in the Nature and Landscapes category for "Patagonian Sunrise."

The Patagonia region is at the southern section of the Andes Mountains in South America.

"[I've been to] 42 different countries, all the continents except Antarctica. I love international travel and this particular trip brought me to this island hotel, where I'd wake up every morning to photograph the mountain," explained Matwijec. "On this particular early morning the wind was 30 to 40 mph and it was cold, but [I'd recommend you] get out and experience the world and culture."

Using still photography, often the image is not only about the subject, but also about how the photographer wants the world to see it.

"We were walking with my class, as part of a field trip with Military Photo Journalism at Syracuse University, and I laid on the ground with my widest angle lens," explained SSG Pablo Piedra, a combat documentation and production specialist, returning to Fort Meade after school, and first place winner in the category Design Elements for "The Oculus."

The Oculus is the main station house, and part of the transportation hub at the World Trade Center.

Piedra is not deterred by others as he tries to get the best angle.

"I try to look at things from a different perspective and capture that view in my lens. If everyone sees the same thing in the same way, life can be boring," he said. "Slowing down and looking at things from every angle can help turn the ordinary into the extraordinary."


SIDEBAR:

In the Army current operational environment, with limited resources and a focus on readiness, the Army Digital Photography Contest is a way for MWR patrons to participate in recreation where they are, with the camera gear they have at hand. Any eligible MWR patron is invited to participate.

Winners in all categories and divisions are:

Animals:
1st Place Capt. Ken Woods, Fort Benning
1st Place William Pully, Civilian, Aberdeen PG
2nd Place Petty Officer Seth Coulter, Non-Army Installation
2nd Place Ralph Gaines, Retired, Fort Gordon
3rd Place Chief Warrant Officer Jessica Veltri, Joint Base Lewis-McChord
3rd Place David McGowen, DOD Employee, Fort Sill

Design Elements:
1st Place Staff Sgt. Pablo Piedra, Non-Army Installation
1st Place Kaweka Stoney, Retired, Joint Base Lewis-McChord
2nd Place Capt. Daniel McCarey, Fort Buchanan
2nd Place Jason Zimmerman, DOD Employee, USAG Yongsan
3rd Place Sgt. Matthew Grajeda, Fort Stewart/Hunter Air Field
3rd Place Michael Hemming, Civilian, USAG Yongan

Digital Darkroom:
1st Place Sgt. First Class Brian Freeman, Fort Bragg
2nd Place Sgt. First Class Brian Freeman, Fort Bragg
2nd Place Shelly Amborn, Family Member, Fort Sill
3rd Place Maj. Sean Phillips, USAG Yongsan
3rd Place John Powers, Retired, Camp Zama

Military Life:
1st Place 1st Lt. Jeffrey Thibeau, USAG Yongsan
2nd Place Maj. Sean Phillips, USAG Yongsan
2nd Place Tawny Browning, Family Member, Camp Zama
3rd Place Maj. Shannon MacLean, Joint Base Lewis-McChord
3rd Place Monica Willet, Family Member, Fort Sill

Nature & Landscapes:
1st Place Capt. Andrew Matwijec, Fort Sill
1st Place Colin Kelly, DOD Family Member, Aberdeen PG
2nd Place Chief Warrant Officer Matthew Brown, Soto Cano
3rd Place First Sgt. Nathanael Handlang, Army National Guard
3rd Place Tawny Browning, Family Member, Camp Zama

People:
1st Place Lt. Col. Lan Dalat, Camp Zama
1st Place Rachel Osborne, Family Member, Fort Hood
2nd Place Lt. Col. Christopher Hobgood, USAG Hawaii
2nd Place John Powers, Retired, Camp Zama
3rd Place Sgt. First Class Mateusz Tworek, USAG Yongsan
3rd Place Dugan Barry, DOD Employee, Camp Zama

Still Life:
1st Place Chief Warrant Officer Jessica Veltri, Joint Base Lewis-McChord
1st Place Michael Villalpando, Retired, Camp Zama
2nd Place Petty Officer Seth Coulter, Non-Army Installation
2nd Place Colin Kelly, Family Member, Aberdeen PG
3rd Place 1st Lt. Shawn Cooper, Fort Rucker
3rd Place Charles Levie, Civilian, Camp Zama

A list of current and past winners in the Photo Contest can be viewed https://www.armymwr.com/programs-and-services/arts-and-crafts/digital-photo-contest/.