Winner: Derek Ruttan, The London Free Press
London Free Press photographer Derek Ruttan was on the hunt for a feature photo when he happened upon a dangerous standoff. In a series of tense and disturbing frames, Ruttan captured images of a young man holding a large knife to his own throat while police point a gun and Taser at him. Throughout the uncomfortable confrontation – in which police tried to prevent Ruttan from doing his job – the suspect revealed he was desperate to avoid going back to jail and would do anything to avoid it. After 90 minutes out on the edge, the young man surrendered, unharmed. The photographs capture a moment of fear and vulnerability, and the precarious and potentially deadly terrain between fight and flight.
Runner-up: Dax Melmer, The Windsor Star
Dax Melmer explains: Flooding along the Lake Erie shoreline was at its worst in 2019, and while there are countless ways to document it, employing drone photography to reveal to the reader the extent of the damage – and how widespread it is – is a key advantage to this new technology that is slowly entering the newsroom. As tax dollars are increasingly requested to deal with flooding issues, both short- and long-term, providing readers (the taxpayers) with visual information that allows them to process how severe flooding is in some areas is an important element of employing good drone photography.
Runner-up: Nick Brancaccio
Assigned to cover the Ontario Hockey League game between Windsor Spitfires and Sarnia Sting on Feb. 14, 2019, Windsor Star photographer Nick Brancaccio captured the quintessential sports action photo as Spitfires forward Tyler Angle sliced through Sting players for a scoring chance on the goaltender. Brancaccio’s image has everything photojournalists and editors hope for in a sports action photo. The razor-sharp image has the action heading directly into the lens and Angle appears to hover in the air as goaltender Cameron Lamour kicks out his skate for the save.