Sunday, June 8, 2008

Pat Semansky, photographer extraordinaire

Pat Semansky is a former photo editor of Santa Clara University's undergrad newspaper The Santa Clara. He was such a wonderful part of the paper, took on so much responsibility and went out of his way to make sure the paper ran smoothly, the staff moonlighting award is now named after him.

Since he graduated in 2006, he has spent his days in New Orleans shooting for the likes of the Associated Press and doing who knows what else. I admire his talent and ambition.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures of his:

Besides the fact that this boy is adorable, which always adds to a picture, his expression captures the moment. He's watching the New Orleans Mardi Gras parade with such wonder and awe. The angle of the barrier and the blurry background draw the eye straight to the little boy's face. The boy is obviously the focus with only an out-of-focus float, scattered beads on the floor and in his hands to give the photo some context.

Kat Ryalls and Lindsey Ott are the two volunteers in this school buidling damaged by Hurricane Katrina. The light coming through the broken roof gives this photo an eerie feel. You really get a sense of the ruins left behind in New Orleans in the dingy colors. Again the angle of the walls and the shadows draws the eye to the girls' corner, along with the brilliant white face masks among the dirt and ruins.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the hope of renewal eventually came from help from the nation. The stark contrast between the strength of the nation in the symbolism of the flag burried in the the grime and rubble is powerful. The contrasting light and dark areas add to the dramatic aspect of the photo.

This is an example of capturing an exact moment, which makes for the best sports photos. The cornerback's hand is still in a fist inches away from the jersey he was just clasping. As the tailback sticks his hand out in the opponents' face and gets away, his jersey still hangs where it was being tugged. It takes a lot of talent and luck to get such a perfect moment -- with the players even facing the camera.

For more great shots and to see where else Pat's work has been, check out his Web site:

- Sophie Asmar

(Photos taken from

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