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By Jackson Loder
Alberto Mariani captured first place in the 2021 Greg Crowder Memorial Photojournalism Award for his images documenting the 2020 social justice protests triggered by George Floyd’s death, the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and the effects of the deadly pandemic.
The honor is presented each year to the Cronkite School’s most outstanding student photojournalist. Senior Marlee Smith placed second in the contest and Samantha Chow, also a senior, earned an honorable mention.
Mariani, who plans to graduate in spring 2022, will receive a $1,000 prize for his achievement, and his award-winning photos will be displayed on the third floor of the Cronkite building for the 2021-22 school year.
The judges selected Mariani as the top winner over a number of Cronkite student photojournalists.
Originally from Milan, Italy, Mariani moved to the U.S. in 2012. He has been working with Cronkite News as a photographer on both the health and general assignment beats. He also works as a freelance photographer for the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting.
“I love capturing powerful moments. It’s our job to capture history as photographers,” he said. “The BLM protests were so important for me. They showed so much emotion and passion.”
Contest judge Mark Morris described Mariani’s work as “sophisticated in thought and execution.”
"Alberto's poignant photographs were created with a well-defined personal vision, one that explored and documented the uncertainties of our lives as we struggled to understand and overcome racial divisions, political frictions and the harsh realities of a deadly pandemic,” Morris said. “His gritty images captured a year like no other and exemplifies the important role of documentary photography."
Con Keyes, another contest judge, praised all three finalists for their talent, skill and attention to detail.
"Greg Crowder would be in awe of the three finalists,” Keyes said. “Their fundamental instincts of seeing and recording great images is very apparent. They have an ‘eye’ for focusing in on the moment, and it resonates, showing they take a personal pride in photojournalism excellence. They are so talented that any newspaper in the country would be thrilled to have them on their staff."
The Cronkite School selects one student photographer annually to receive the award named after the late Greg Crowder. Crowder graduated from Arizona State in 1980 and was a longtime photojournalist at The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, California. After his untimely passing in 2005, Crowder’s parents decided to honor his legacy by establishing the award at the Cronkite School.
The Cronkite School will recognize Alberto Mariani and show his winning photos prior to a discussion with Rob Schumacher, senior staff photographer/videographer, The Arizona Republic and USA Today, at a Must See Monday event on Oct. 25.