PPS student wins NC Student Photographer of the Year

Pete Kiehart, a Duke Public Policy Studies major, was named 2006 Student Photographer of the Year by the North Carolina Press Association. Kiehart also won third place in spot news.

Photo by Pete KiehartQ: Where are you from?

A: I was born in Boston, Mass, but I grew up in Chapel Hill and graduated from Carolina Friends School.

Q: When did you get interested in photojournalism and start taking pictures?

A: My high school had a three-week program at the end of each year where students were given the opportunity to go on trips or to do internships. I had been interested in art photography and darkroom stuff since 8th grade, so a teacher suggested that I intern at the Durham Herald-Sun. After my internship, I started hanging out there a lot. The staff of the Herald-Sun really gave me direction and laid the foundation for my photography.

Q: How long have you worked at The Duke Chronicle?

A: I started shooting assignments from time to time for them last semester. I now work as an associate editor in the photo department. I also spend a lot of time working for the Chanticleer (Duke's yearbook), where I am also an editor. I have a lot of freedom there to try different things. It's also nice not having to work under the pressure of a daily deadline.

Q: Please tell us about the photos that won the awards and the types of photos you take most often.

A: North Carolina Student Photographer of the Year is awarded to the student with the best portfolio from the last year (i.e. only photos taken in 2006 may be entered). I also won Third Place in the Spot News category (the contest includes categories for single images as well as multiple picture stories and portfolios.) The portfolio, which was all black and white, included a story about a homeless man who was trying to get permanent housing, a sports photo of the Duke soccer team, and a picture from an alternative church in rural Ohio, among others. The spot news photo, which was also in my portfolio, was of a girl at Ohio University who was crying after her friend got written up by RAs for underage drinking.

Community Service Tour I photographed the homeless man, James Thivener, for about 4 months from November 2005-February 2006. I worked on the project with the same reporter that I traveled to New Orleans with after Hurricane Katrina. It was a very interesting experience. I spent my first Thanksgiving and my first Christmas away from my family with him. While I never really felt uncomfortable around Jimmy or his friends, it was awkward to arrive at his camp well dressed for cold temperatures, because he didn’t have access to warm clothes like I did.

I enjoy documenting pretty much anything, particularly things that don't often get photographed. That being said, I've photographed everything from the Rolling Stones to the Superbowl to Hurricane Katrina. I maintain a photoblog, which is currently very sports-heavy, at www.petekiehart.com.

Q: Do you plan to make photography part of your post-graduation plans?

A: Currently, I do not have definite plans for my life after graduation. While I don't think I'll necessarily end up being a photojournalist, I would like to continue to work in a visual field.