Cole Heine ’19 won second place in the annual National Geographic 2018 High School Photography Contest.
With over 5,000 entries from across the country, this year’s competition was the most competitive on record. The judging committee publicly released the competition results March 13.
Heine took his winning photograph last summer during a National Geographic Student Expedition to Australia. It captures his friends swimming in the Great Barrier Reef.
As second place winner, Heine won a backpack and photography instruction book.
He said he is proud of his performance in the competition and grateful for the opportunity to be judged by professionals outside of the school community.
“It feels really good to have been named runner up in such a highly competitive contest,” Heine said. “Being validated in an unbiased way with photography is really hard to come by, so it is super cool.”
For Heine, the process of selecting and submitting photographs to the competition was the most stressful part.
After choosing his top 20 pictures, he touched up edits on his favorites. He then consulted Visual Arts Teacher Kevin O’Malley and his mother to decide which five to submit.
“This process of narrowing down and comparing photos against others is the hardest part of photography for me, and I am really always learning,” Heine said.
Heine has been interested in photography for the past five years, but started pursuing it seriously three years ago.
Throughout his time at Harvard-Westlake, Heine has taken both the Photography I and Photography II courses.
The skills that he learned in these classes have helped him to develop as a photographer, Heine said.
His teachers and mentors have played a huge role in bettering his photography and preparing him for the competition, he said.
“[O’Malley] has been a huge influence for me in the workflow aspect of photography, being able to get from taking the picture to printing and mounting it,” Heine said. “Other influences for me have been two of the leaders on the Australia trip, Brett Garner and Jason Edwards, who have been influencing my style of photography recently.”