CMC students’ photographs earn international awards |

CMC students’ photographs earn international awards

Paula Mayer and William McGrath were recently recognized in the College Photographer of the Year competition

“A Wheelie Bad Day” by William McGrath earned a sports photography silver award at the 2021 College Photographer of the Year awards.
William McGrath/Courtesy photo

Two Colorado Mountain College professional photography students — Paula Mayer and William McGrath — were recently recognized for their images in the international College Photographer of the Year competition.

“This marks our tenth year competing in this competition,” said Derek Johnston, program director for the photography program at Colorado Mountain College’s Isaacson School. “To date, CMC students have earned seven medals and 12 awards of excellence. Our students continue to win acclaim on an international level.”

On average, the College Photographer of the Year receives around 10,000 entries from more than 120 colleges and universities in 17 countries each year.

Capturing peak action

Another award winner this year is McGrath, a second-year photography student from Gypsum. McGrath received a silver award at the competition for his image, “A Wheelie Bad Day.” The image was captured this past summer during McGrath’s trip to Oregon as a volunteer photographer at Wheeliefest UTV.

McGrath said his winning photo represents his vision in photography, which is “taking images of peak action whether it is a crash or not. The image not only shows the action, but sort of tells a story of the event.”

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“CMC’s photography program is one of the best in the United States, and the numerous times we have earned medals at CPOY is evidence,” he said.

Telling stories through the viewfinder

“Dismount” by Paula Mayer earned a sports photography bronze award in the 2021 College Photographer of the Year international competition.
Paula Mayer/Courtesy photo

This year, Mayer received a bronze medal and an award of excellence in the sports action category for her images, which showcase the reality of bull riding at the Carbondale Wild West Rodeo.

Mayer’s work gravitates toward photojournalism featuring western ranching and lifestyle content.

“When I started at CMC, I had no idea it would lead to this,” Mayer said. “I am working today in a field that brings me joy.”

In addition to studying at the college, Mayer currently works as a freelance photographer and writer for the Sopris Sun.

“I get to meet people and hear their stories and figure out how to tell them through images. I have access to places and events I never would have imagined. It’s a great journey,” Mayer said.

McGrath plans to become an action sports photographer, while Mayer’s goals following graduation are to continue working as a freelance photojournalist.

Colorado Mountain College’s professional photography program is under the umbrella of the Isaacson School of Communication, Arts and Media. Visit for more information.

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