Photo by Jaren Wilkey, Brigham Young University

Eight times Photographer of the Year, 40 years a university photographer, five times a symposium host, five years president of UPAA, and one job interview. It should come at no surprise that the Board of Directors decided to name The Photographer of the Year Award after Mark Philbrick, photographer at Brigham Young University.

Because of his service to UPAA, a willingness to share in the work, and to share his knowledge, and eight times POY (more than any other member) the discussion was short as to Mark’s worthiness of such an honor at the 2015 Mid Year Board meeting. Starting in 2016 the annual award will be called The Mark A. Philbrick Photographer of the Year.

Recently I chatted with Mark about the his time with UPAA and the POY name change.

What is the biggest change you have seen in the 35 years you have been a member of UPAA?
Of course the biggest change to the photo industry was the affordable digital camera and then the demise of film, as we knew it.  The best change in UPAA has been electing the president for more than one year at a time. From 1961 to 1987 most only served for a year with a couple doing up to 3 years. The organization really grew under Jim Dusen and his 12 years of service and you have even advanced and solidified us even more during your 8 years of service so far. 

Social media has added a great level of communication to our organization.  Before we would just meet once a year and discuss our situations at the schools, then make a few phone calls during the year until we met again.  Now we can communicate with each other on a daily base and share not only words but images as well. This is a great opportunity for our members to continue their quest to be the best photographer their schools have ever know.

What do you see as most challenging for young photographers?
It seems more of our young photographers are coming out of the shrinking group of newspaper photographers. Learning how to best control the photo capturing process is a big change to their thinking. Being able to move elements in the photo, arranging the people and using Photoshop to enhance the image is still foreign to them. As a University Photographer we have entered into the world of marketing, advertising and illustrative photography with the sole purpose of telling our University stories to get more top students and financial donations. Once they embrace this change then the world of creative photography will take them on a higher journey.

Looking back at 35 years in UPAA what do you miss or wish you had accomplished?
I miss my UPAA friends who have passed away. There have been many great men and women who were dedicated to their craft and willing to help out this young photographer from a school in the west called BYU.  My only regret would be that I never placed all six of my prints in the print competition. I have had five winners many times and even a few years with only a couple of winners.

I know the good that winning is for each of our UPAA photographers. It has helped me at BYU and I know it is the way for UPAA members to strengthen their positions at their schools.

What was it like when we announced that the POY would be named after you?
I was stunned and totally unprepared for such a great honor. I thought you might just award me life membership with a pat on the back. In a few years no one will remember that Philbrick guy, but until then I am honored and humbled by yours and the board’s thoughtfulness.

Mark will retire in September, I am sure he will continue to make photos perhaps a few of the 12 grandchildren, and spend time with his wife Peggy.

Mark, you have this summer and the month of September to make 6 great photos for the 2017 APC!

Glenn Carpenter, Moraine Valley Community College