Don Seabrook Wins 2018 Regional Photographer of the Year Award
UW Department of Communication alumnus Don Seabrook recently won the 2018 National Press Photographers Association’s (NPPA) “Regional Photographer of the Year” award for the Northwest region. Seabrook graduated from the Department in 1983, and since then has been working at The Wenatchee World in East Wenatchee.
The NPPA’s Monthly News Clip Contest gives photographers an opportunity to share their published work, and compete against some of the best in their region. The Northwest region includes Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, British Columbia, Alberta, Northwest Territories, and the Yukon Territory. Participants are awarded points each month, and at the end of the year, the individual who accumulates the most is named “Regional Photographer of the Year.” This is the second year the NPPA has awarded this honor to Seabrook; he also won the title in 2010.
Don Seabrook has nurtured his passion for visual storytelling since high school. A Wenatchee native, he first worked as a dark room technician at The Wenatchee World when he was a high school senior. Although he came to the UW to study chemical engineering, he fell in love with photography and journalism, and switched his major to Communication. He says he loves the “documentary” aspect of “just being able to watch people’s lives and find interesting moments to record in a photograph.”
Seabrook’s time at the UW was foundational in his development as a journalist. He recalls how then Associate Professor of Journalism, B.J. Johnston, helped him get an internship at the Queen Anne Record, where many of Seabrook’s photographs earned him a spot on the front page. As he already knew the mechanics of working with a camera, he focused his time in college on honing his storytelling skills. He learned how to find and tell stories accurately and thoroughly, access subjects responsibly and gain their trust, and discern what’s newsworthy and important to people.
“Photography is all about capturing moments,” says Seabrook, and as such, photojournalists should first develop robust technical expertise. He explains, “When you’re comfortable with your tools, the camera becomes second nature, and you can focus on the story.”
Seabrook also emphasizes how important it is that photojournalists be good writers. He believes that, “Being able to write enhances your ability to tell stories with photographs.” It’s a skill that held him in good stead when The Wenatchee World had to cut staff due to the changing nature of the news business.
Working for the same publication for over three decades has given Seabrook the opportunity to form longstanding relationships within the community. He loves local journalism because, “you get to know the people and they get to know you. It’s an honor to be able to tell stories about my community in north central Washington.”