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UW-Eau Claire International Student Is Finalist
in College Photography Contest

RELEASED: March 1, 2006

Tea Vutmej, above, was selected as a finalist in Photographer's Forum magazine's recent college photography contest. Her photo, at left, will appear in the book "Best of College Photography Annual 2006."

EAU CLAIRE — A University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire student was chosen as a finalist in Photographer's Forum magazine's Best of College Photography Annual 2006.

A photo submitted by Tea Vutmej, a student on scholarship from Zagreb, Croatia, was in the top 5 percent of photographs chosen out of 28,000 entries from student photographers in the United States and Canada.

"I was very happy when I read the letter of congratulations," Vutmej said. "It is a great satisfaction for me to be recognized as one of the finalists."

In mid-December, Vutmej submitted five photos, four in black and white and one in color, for consideration in the competition.

"My professor, Al Bonanno, suggested I apply for that contest because I never would have gotten to that idea," Vutmej said. "He gave me all of the information and encouraged me to submit as many photos as I could."

The photo that was selected as a finalist is a digital color shot taken while Vutmej was traveling in Chicago. It is a view from Randolph Street of several downtown buildings.

"It was a random photo," Vutmej said. "When I started playing around with it in Photoshop, I noticed perfect symmetry and good color and contrast. I liked it; I don't know why, but I just liked it, so I submitted it."

Vutmej's photograph will appear in the hardbound publication of Best of College Photography Annual 2006. The Annual is distributed to college libraries and instructors of photography, art and graphic design.

Bonanno, a communication and journalism department consultant, called Vutmej "an outstanding photographer."

Vutmej said that she is very grateful to Bonanno for allowing the photojournalism class a lot of freedom for creativity. She said that he teaches with examples instead of a strictly scheduled class, and that is what has helped her the most.

Other than her classes, Vutmej feels that her unique perspective about the things around her in the U.S. is what has helped her photography.

"I see things in a different way," Vutmej said. "I think that is the same for anyone who comes from a different state."

Vutmej is studying at UW-Eau Claire for the 2005-06 school year on an Open Society Institute scholarship and has completed one photojournalism class. The purpose of the scholarship is to allow people from developing countries to come to the United States to gain experience and then go home to do a project in their home country, Vutmej said.

When Vutmej returns to Croatia she hopes to continue to use her photographic experience as she pursues a career in journalism.

"I will continue to take photos, but I think it will stay on the hobby level," Vutmej said, explaining that courses of study tend to be less flexible in Croatia. "I really enjoy creating new images, and of course I will try to include it in my work somehow."



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