Jeff Storjohann
Jeff Storjohann
February 11, 2013

Veteran Carroll Daily Times Herald photographer Jeff Storjohann earned the Iowa Associated Press Photo Sweepstakes Award Friday afternoon for the best photo work by a staff member of any wire-service-member newspaper in the state.

Associated Press Iowa Bureau Chief Kia Breaux presented Storjohann with the award during a luncheon at the Des Moines downtown Marriott Hotel attended by Gov. Terry Branstad.

"Jeff is among the most talented photographers in the state, and for that matter, the nation," said Ann Wilson, co-owner and general manager of The Daily Times Herald. "We are blessed to have him on staff, as our leading eyes in the communities of the Carroll area. It's wonderful for Jeff's peers to recognize him with this top award in our industry."

Storjohann, 47, who grew up on a farm near Gladbrook in central Iowa, has been with the Daily Times Herald since 1993.

"I developed an interest in photography from my father, who was always carrying a camera with him," Storjohann said. "My first real newspaper job was in 1987 in northeast Iowa, and I moved to Carroll in 1988."

The Sweepstakes Award photo ran on April 13. It showed Dedham firefighters working a controlled burn near Quail Avenue and 270th Street.

"I was on my way from one assignment to another, but I don't recall what the other assignment was, when I got a phone call about a grass fire between Dedham and Willey," Storjohann said. "I knew the area where it was at so I stopped on the way back to Carroll."

Storjohann said the fire was originally a controlled burn, where a landowner was rejuvenating a stand of switchgrass and volunteers were helping with the burn.

"Although those burns can be planned out to the last detail, there is always a chance things don't go as they should," Storjohann said. "This was the case that night as the wind picked up slightly and the humidity remained low, making for ideal burning conditions. To help keep the fire in check, members of the Dedham Fire Department were called in with a quick-attack truck to maintain a burn line near the top of a hill."

When Storjohann arrived, crews were letting the fire progress from east to west and they were using a truck to prevent further expansion to the north.

"This worked out perfect for me as the late-day sun was partially blocked out by the intense smoke, creating this brilliant orange light that backlit the top of the hill," he said. "I was working the front side of the fire to stay out of the smoke and using a medium telephoto lens to capture frames of the volunteers working in the smoke-shrouded hillside. As the flames slowly progressed near me, I switched to a wide-angle lens to capture the intense detail of the fire in the foreground and timed a few frames where the fire truck was working towards the center with the smoke and sunlight coming in from the side. Although I was close to the front of the fire, I never felt in harm's way as the movement was pretty slow. The lighting was nearly perfect."

Storjohann broke into the profession shooting and processing film. In 1998, The Daily Times Herald obtained its first digital camera.

"By 2001 we had switched completely to digital imaging," Storjohann said. "The days of darkroom work and film are forever gone."

In a typical year, The Daily Times Herald will shoot 40,000 frames - which in the old days would have been the equivalent of more than 1,100 rolls of film. Of those estimated 40,000 pictures, the newspaper usually archives between 8,000 and 10,000 photos on its servers.

Storjohann and his wife, Sherry, live in Carroll and enjoy hiking and other outdoor activities with their 5-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, Kylie.

"As a 47-year old, I have had the good fortune to discover a career that I really enjoy and one that gives me the opportunity to travel, meet people and to experience the great things our state has to offer," Storjohann said. "Receiving the Associated Press Sweepstakes Photo Award is a very nice honor, particularly because it is chosen by your peers in the profession. One of the reasons it was chosen was because of the way it was displayed - a full page on the back of a section. And having that opportunity to publish the photo wouldn't have happened without the support of the management and staff at the Daily Times Herald. It was a team effort that allowed us as a paper to share it with our readers. I hope they enjoyed viewing it as much as we enjoyed bringing it to them."

Storjohann also captured 12 individual photo awards, including a sweep first, second and third places in the sports-feature and business-photo categories, in the Iowa Associated Press Managing Editors Photo Contests for 2012.

Those awards are as follows:

Spot News: First place, "Saddle White and Victoria Herrera"

Feature Photos: First place, "Revival By Fire"; Second place, "Gracie Brincks and sister, Gabrielle"

Business Photos: First place, "Brittney Lynch"; Second place, "Ken Ebner takes a ceremonial first tee"; and Third place, "Burger King shakes up menu"

Sports Feature: First place, "How good are high school free throws"; Second place, "A black curtain overhead"; and Third place, McKallister Wenck

Sports Action: First Place, "Woodbine's Jameson Delaney"; Third place,"Kuemper Catholic baseball"

Picture Story: First place, Storjohann and DTH staff writer/photographer Jared Strong, "Broken Hearts"