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I won a Bronze Medal in the Interpretive Eye category of College Photographer of the Year this year. My last eligible year, as I have graduated from OU, and my first award from the competition. This photo was taken almost a year ago, when I was traveling to West Virginia from Ohio to visit my grandparents and extended family for Thanksgiving. From what I remember the weather was terrible, snowing and sleeting on and off all day. The drive was long, almost an extra hour and a half tacked onto the four hours I planned for, due to slippery roads and pit stops, such as the one I made when I took this photograph. At this point in my life I was feeling extremely anxious and confused about my future. I was also overwhelmed with piles of school work from an overloaded last semester of college. My final photojournalism capstone class and two higher level anthropology classes along with the rest of my schedule had me feeling run down. Lack of sleep and frustration with the lack of creativity I was allowing myself was wearing me thin. As I was driving down the interstate (I-68 E) I quickly decided to pull into the exit 15 lane for Coopers Rock State Forest. I let myself slow down. I drove towards an overlook, parked my car on the side of the road and then walked around getting lost in the quiet of the freshly fallen snow for about 20 minutes or so. No one was around. I had time to breath in the bitter air. I let my hands grow cold after making a few images with my frozen metal box of a camera and then proceeded to get in my car and continue driving to my destination. 

This photograph is a reminder to slow down. To stop and explore the exits and sides of the road that constantly grab my attention no matter how rushed I feel. The ones that I normally barrel past going anywhere between 65-80 mph. It’s a reminder to breathe and to take some quiet time for myself outside, in the middle of nowhere, without spending that time gazing at the screens and technology that seem to always be directing my attention.

To see my photo and so many other great college photographers work: http://www.cpoy.org/index.php?s=WinningImages&yr=69&c=286#3.0