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Photography Grad Braden Summers Takes Home First & Third Place in Prestigious APA|NY Photo Contest

Taking inspiration from his own active lifestyle and the athletes in his images, Braden Summers, a graduate of Academy of Art University’s School of Photography, impressed judges with his work. He won first and third place prize in the Action Adventure Sports category of the 2010 APA|NY Photo Contest. The annual photo contest is sponsored by the New York chapter of American Photographic Artists.

1st Place Photo by Braden Summers

Braden’s winning images in the competition featured a group of young men playing soccer on a dirt field and a stark and snowy photo of a team of sled dogs. Through the images, Braden captures a crucial moment in the action. “Narrative is always the driving force behind my imagery,” he explains. “I like to tell stories and more specifically I like to tell them in a visual medium."

Braden is no stranger to winning top photography awards. This year, he also won first place in the lifestyle division of the national APA awards. Braden’s unique vision makes him stand out in the world of photography, but it wasn’t always that way. It took him some time to find that photography was the best medium for his work. “I was never as good of a drawer or painter as I wanted to be, photography gives me the satisfaction of being able to create the visions I have in my head,” he said.

Though it wasn’t originally his intention to look into art schools, Braden changed his plans when he took summer photography classes at Academy of Art University after his freshman year in college. “By the end of that summer, I dropped my enrollment at Boston University and remained at the Academy through to my graduation,” he said. “ The Academy showed me that there were possibilities of financial security after pursuing a degree in the arts, an idea I never previously considered.”

Braden credits Academy of Art University with more than just opening his eyes to the possibility of making a living doing what he loves. As working photographers, his instructors taught him about the industry, offering up the lessons they learned from their successes and their mistakes.

3rd Place Photo by Braden Summers

In particular, Braden remembers the inspiration and encouragement he received from Executive Director of Photography James Wood.  “He was able to recognize my strengths as a photographer and helped me build upon them to create a cohesive body of work,” Braden said.

Currently, Braden is working on photography for the Museum of Modern Art. He also recently finished an advertising campaign for the Tony Awards, which put Jude Law, Christopher Walken, Kelsey Grammer and many more celebrities in front of his camera.

Thinking of his experience as a professional photographer, Braden encourages current students to pursue their passion actively while in photography school. “You have to want it, bad,” he says. “If you aren’t constantly creating new work, even if it’s not your best, you won’t see yourself grow as an artist.”


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