Cover Search 2018: The Winners

As smart as cameras are today, there is one thing they can’t do: see. The thrill of these superb pictures arises from the skill and intuition of the passionate people behind the lens.

Compelling photography is one of the essential components of New Jersey Monthly. This year, for the first time, we invited our readers to contribute their photographic vision to our depiction of the Garden State. Partnering with Unique Photo of Fairfield, we launched a contest, open to amateurs, students and professionals residing in the state. The challenge: Create a photograph, shot in New Jersey, striking enough to command the cover of this month’s issue.

Photographers were invited to submit images in five categories: Architecture, lifestyle, nature, student and special (the last encompassing aerial, night, abstract, conceptual and digitally manipulated pictures). The New Jersey Monthly & Unique Photo Cover Search 2018 entry period ran March 20 through October 1.

[Gallery: Photo Cover Search 2018 Winners]

In concert with Unique, we reviewed the 631 submissions on the basis of originality, technical excellence, composition, artistic merit and subject relevance to life in New Jersey. In the initial judging, we chose 60 finalists to submit to our expert panel. Using the same criteria, the panel chose the winner and runner-up in each of the five categories. New Jersey Monthly and Unique Photo made the final decision on the cover winner and runner-up. Winners and runners-up won prizes of photo equipment and gift cards from Unique Photo.

Enjoy your stroll through the state, guided by these gifted artists.

Cover Search, Grand Prize: Moon Over Mariner’s Landing, Diane LaPreta

“My favorite things to photograph are the moon, the boardwalk and rides, and silhouettes,” says LaPreta. Entering the special category, she used Photoshop to painstakingly combine her telephoto shot of the full moon with silhouettes she made of the rides at Mariner’s Landing near her hometown of Wildwood Crest. “I enjoy being able to create something you wish you could see but doesn’t exist.”

Runner-Up: Sunset, Ocean City, Michael Walsh

“I’m not a fisherman,” says Walsh, a professional close-up magician who lives in Northfield, “but I love maritime photos and sunsets.” This picture, entered in the nature category, was taken with a wide-angle lens, the camera on a tripod for a slow 1/30-second exposure, in December. “At that time of year,” Walsh says, “the sun looks like it’s setting right behind the fishing pier. You don’t get that in the summer.”

Nature, 1st Place: It’s Good to Be Green, Joseph Prusky

On a bright spring morning, Prusky, a retired photographer and winner of many awards, crept close to the bank of the koi pond at Deep Cut Gardens near his home in Middletown. “The frog was just hanging out,” he says. “I saw the branch and thought, What a nice setup.”

Runner Up: Dune Fence, Joseph Zielinski

Zielinski, a research pharmacist who lives in Florham Park, was walking the Atlantic City beach after a storm. “What drew me,” he says, “was the fence being swallowed by the dune, and all the intersecting lines and curves.”

Architecture, 1st Place: Asbury Park, Marilyn Baldi

“Asbury Park is great to photograph; there’s always people doing art outside,” says Baldi, a retired teacher who is vice president of the Guild of Creative Art in Shrewsbury. “This fence was outside the old casino building. What a wonderful message. We can’t have too much love, and Lord knows we need it now.”

Runner Up: Hoboken Terminal, Marc Hamburger

Waiting for a colleague’s train to arrive, Hamburger, an investigator who lives in West Orange, captured this highly detailed study of the grand waiting room. “I liked the angle of the stairs,” he says. “I played with it in color, but thought it looked better in black & white.”

Lifestyle, 1st Place: Flying Terrier, Joseph Frazz

After a snowfall, Frazz and a friend went to the dog park in Morris Plains with his friend’s Boston terrier, who loves to chase balls. Frazz, a professional photographer who lives in Harding, set his zoom at full telephoto and, with a fast shutter speed, had his friend throw the ball directly at him. The terrier bounded right into the picture.

Runner Up: Row Boat Tied Up, Patricia Migliore

“I loved the color of the interior of the boat and the angle of the oars sitting there just that way,” says Rahway resident and professional photographer Migliore, who captured this image while walking along the Delaware & Raritan Canal near Millstone. “I’ve always loved the peacefulness of the canal.”

Special, 1st Place: South Mountain Reservation, Gene Nemeth

“I went out after a snowfall and typical freeze,” says Nemeth, a South Orange architect and professional photographer. “I used a slow shutter speed and tilted the camera up to create a sense of motion and elongation. The ice-covered branches are lit by the setting sun.”

Runner Up: Wildwood Ferris Wheel, Joseph Madsen

Night photography falls into the special category. Madsen, an art director who lives in Bayonne, was showing his girlfriend, a newcomer to the Shore, the lights of Wildwood. “I really, really like color,” he says, “and this was amazing.”

Student, 1st Place: Roosting Monarchs, Justin Walker, 12

Walker, who lives in Cape May Courthouse, “was looking to take sunset pictures” when he came across these monarch butterflies on a stand of goldenrod. “I like that they’re all together, and the sun is lighting up their color,” he says.

Runner Up: Dahlia, Connor McMullen, 17

“In May, I saw an interesting plant emerge in the woods next to our house in Norwood,” says McMullen. “Eventually, I realized it was a dahlia, although I was uncertain how it got there. When the plant started to bloom in August, I was ecstatic I hadn’t pulled it out of the ground in May.”

2018 Cover Search Judging Panel

Ellen Denuto has been capturing memorable images for more than 20 years. Her award-winning fine-art and portrait photographs have been included in museums, exhibitions and publications nationwide. Based in Denville, she teaches classes, leads workshops and serves as vice president of the New Jersey chapter of the American Society of Media Photographers.

Francesca Messina is a visual editor who tells stories using words, images, data and design. After a career working on numerous major publications, she recently pivoted to the role of artists’ representative at the esteemed British firm Debut Art. The Brooklyn resident is a former president of the Society of Publication Designers.

Nick Palmieri believes the art of photography should be cultivated based on modern technology, while maintaining respect for its historical roots. A past president of the Cranford-Millburn Camera Club and the Camera Naturalists Camera Club of New Jersey, Palmieri is a moderator of the Facebook page, “Photography Help, Tips, Techniques, and Critiques.”

Frank Veronsky is a commercial and editorial photographer who specializes in people, portraits and architectural design. He has photographed an eclectic array of personalities, executives and celebrities, as well as countless outstanding unknowns. Recent work includes the cover of the November 2018 issue of New Jersey Monthly. He is based in Belle Meade.

James Worrell has won numerous awards for his photography and is widely published in New Jersey Monthly and other media. A graduate of the University of Iowa School of Art and Art History, he started his career in Los Angeles, later opening his first studio in Manhattan. He lives in Maplewood and teaches photography at Newark Academy in Livingston.

Read more Cover Search 2024, Jersey Living articles.

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Comments (2)

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  1. RJHNJ001

    No doubt. Winners provided great photos. Frankly, though, it would have been nice to have winning categories for non-professional photographers too. Many of the shots submitted from non-professionals were deserving of attention! Too many of the winning shots were submitted from professionals.

  2. Robert

    Great photos except I didn’t like the grand prize winner with the moon, especially since it was photoshopped. The Sunset, Ocean City was my favorite.