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BU photographer takes two awards

Vernon Doucette honored by University Photographers’ Association of America

Like a hunter stalking his prey, BU photographer Vernon Doucette peered from the roof of the School of Theology (STH) one afternoon last November and saw something that made him smile. The sinking sun had turned the shadows of walkers and cyclists into an elegant alphabet of black lines on the brightly-lit sidewalk. 

Seven months later, that arresting image would earn Doucette an award from the University Photographers’ Association of America (UPAA), an organization of college and university photographers from across the United States and Canada.  The award, presented at the UPAA’s Annual Technical Symposium from June 12 to June 16 at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, was one of two taken home by BU’s Doucette.

Doucette’s photo shadows on the sidewalk (above) won second place in the Personal Vision category, which is open to photographs on any subject. Doucette’s other winning photo, of Allan Pierce, College of Engineering Professor of aeronautical and mechanical engineering, teaching class

(right), earned him honorable mention in the People and Portraits category. The photo was taken last April for the BU Viewbook, a publication for prospective students. It captured Pierce’s intense expression during a lecture, “an unguarded moment,” laughs Doucette. “Occasionally he got caught up in the problem he was teaching.”

Doucette, a photographer with the University for 10 years, says the shadow shot was challenging because the subjects were moving, and he didn’t want their shadows to blend into each other. “I wanted the shadows to be discrete. So the trick was getting the right spacing between the people,” he says. “I used the motor drive and hoped the timing would be just right.”

Doucette says his original intent was to photograph the conical towers on STH and the College of Arts and Sciences up close. “But when I looked over the edge of the building,” he says.  “I knew I had my shot.”

Last year, Doucette won first prize in the UPAA’s Personal Vision category. He also earned second prize in the same category in 2003, and he received two awards from the association in 1999.

“It’s nice to be recognized by your peers,” says Doucette, who attended the UPAA symposium. “When you go to such an event and see many examples of fine work, you realize that there are a lot of great photographers out there, so to be acknowledged by that crowd is something special.”

Doucette “has a great eye,” says Fred Sway, director of BU photo services. “He has won awards in the past, but this year he has been particularly sharp.”