Winners 2013 - 2014

May '14 - Winner #9

May 14 Winner May 14 Photo

“Sants vs. Sinners” is a moody look at a black-light fundraiser that Baruch College’s Phi Eta Sigma and Golden Key National Honor Societies held for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. To get the visual effect he wanted, photographer Matthew Cohen put his camera on a tripod for stability during a longer than normal exposure; the blur in the image comes from people moving during the exposure. “The Relay has a special place in my heard because too many people I know have been affected by cancer, and I hope to see a world without it,” he says.

Matthew Cohen (Class of 2015), majoring in marketing and advertising communications, is president of Baruch’s Photography Club and next year will be chief of staff to the Undergraduate Student Government. His current career goal is to work as a copywriter for an advertising agency or major media company. He says he has entered the CUNY Photo Challenge many times in the past, “however I’m not the type to give up, so a few weeks after taking this photo, I figured I’d try one more time.” He likes to explore the city, with and without his camera; other images are at

April '14 - Winner #8

April 14 portrait April 14 winner

“Anatomy of a Portrait” turns an instructional moment into a work of art. Jen Altman, who teaches photography at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, shows a student how to set up studio lights for a portrait. “I recognized a moment in transition, with the setup of the lighting, that seemed to call for a photo,” says photographer Julius Constantine Motal.  “There's a lot going on that I didn't immediately realize when I first made it. Overall, there's a great deal of geometry that comes through mainly in the form of the umbrella, but also the backdrop. There are three sections of wall: one blue, one white, and one sort of off-white. This photo has the added benefit of having a unique lighting setup.”

Julius Constantine Motal, who expects to earn an M.A. in Journalism degree from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in December 2014, intends to become a photojournalist who works internationally. He made this image as part of his “photo365” project, in which he makes at least one photograph a day for a year. Motal earned a bachelor’s in English with a creative writing concentration from Adelphi University in 2008. He spends his spare time doing photography and reading (currently Chang-Rae Lee’s “Native Speaker”). “My buying of books tends to outpace my reading of them, but I’m trying to get that under control,” he says.

March '14 - Winner #7

March 2014 Winner March 2014 Photo Winner

“The Midterm Study,” shot at 2 a.m. in Brooklyn Bridge Park, shows Yuriy Konderevych as both photographer and subject,  thanks to a tripod and self-timer. He made the photograph while experimenting with a new camera. “It took me roughly five to nine shots to get the exposure correct. I never expected such a great result, because the lighting conditions were complicated. This is natural and street light. I did not use Photoshop. Some color and contrast corrections were made in Adobe Lightroom.”

Yuriy Konderevych, who came to the United States from Ukraine eight years ago, is majoring in accounting, with a minor in law and policy; he expects to graduate from Baruch College in 2015. He says he decided to apply to Baruch College during this photo shoot. Knowing that he would have to keep still for long nighttime exposures, he brought a novel, “The Fifth Servant,” by Kenneth Wishnia, who was a professor at Suffolk County Community College, from which he had just graduated with an associate degree. Somehow, an application packet for Baruch College, provided in 2008 by a high school counselor, had found its way inside the book – and that’s what he read. “I chose to go to Baruch as it is known as one of the best accounting institution.  Also, it is a public institution, so the tuition cost is much lower than the competitors.”."

February '14 - Winner #6

Feb 14 Winner Feb 14 Winning Photo

"Sunup" at Kingsborough Community College offers a markedly different winter vista than the campus's snow-covered walks and trees. "It's a nice warm photo, looking at the way the sun comes alongside the bridge," says Ralph S. Louis. "I've taken a lot of pictures of that scene, but I said, 'I'm going to keep snapping photos until I get a good one.' That morning [in February] I saw the sun exploding in the sky, the clear sky and the birds, and said, 'This is perfect.'" He made the photo with the CUNY Photo Challenge in mind.

Ralph S. Louis studies computer science at York College, from which he expects to graduate in Spring 2015. Married and the father of four children, he works as a computer technician at Leon M. Goldstein High School for the Sciences on the Kingsborough campus; CUNY and the city Department of Education collaboratively established the school. Since he starts work at 7 a.m., he has had many opportunities for early morning photography with his Nikon DSLR. Louis, who lives in Arverne, Queens, hopes to own his own software company "and create a computer science program for my local neighborhood, because I have a passion for helping kids and helping them see their worth."

January '14 - Winner #5

Jan 14 Winner Jan 14 Winning Photo

" The Walking Red " conjures stories, not only of the red-coated student who makes her way across the College of Staten Island during a December snowstorm, but also of all the unseen people whose footsteps preceded her.

Shahd Khidir, who expects to graduate from CSI in 2016, pursues dual majors in political science and international relations, with a concentration in the Middle East and North Africa. She looks forward to a career rooted in “a social conscience work ethic, cultures and languages” that involves time abroad. She made this photo in December. “What I find interesting about my photo is the colors. There is red, which is my favorite. It is a universal color that is flattering for everyone and their complexions. there is white, which is covering everything. There are the footsteps of strangers, who are en route to classes as was I, on that hectic morning. Everything was well pieced together and, thus, I had to take this picture.” In her spare time, she enjoys creative activities including drawing, designing, the arts, music and swimming. For more of her photographic work, see @hadyouatsalaam on Twitter and Instagram.


December '13 - Winner #4

Dec 13 Winner Dec 13 Winning Photo

" Winter Holly " catches a moment of winter bliss, when the year nears its end in a final blaze of color and the low-hanging sun backlights both the leaves and the Brooklyn College clock tower.

Sanjida Bintekamal expects to earn a B.S. in accounting in Fall 2014, says she shot the photo with the CUNY Photo Challenge in mind. “It shows it’s time for the semester to come to an end,” she explains. Although she had long hoped for a career as a fashion designer, she made the pragmatic choice to go into accounting. Nevertheless, she still has her eye on a career involving fashion. After graduation, she intends to work as an accountant while she saves enough money to open her own boutique where she can sell clothes that she designs. Her photography blog is at


November '13 - Winner #3

Nov 13 Winner Nov 13 Winning Photo

"Study Time, BMCC" is a scene visible on any campus, but it's caught with a keen eye for composition and the play of symmetry and asymmetry. "I wanted to capture that moment because this is part of student life," says photographer Aung Aung. He finds this arrangement of people "interesting because different learning styles of students can be seen."

Aung Aung came to New York from his native Burma (Myanmar) in 2007 and worked at a restaurant for several years before deciding to continue the college education he had started at home. He expects to earn an associate degree in liberal arts and sciences from Borough of Manhattan Community College in 2015 and wants to pursue a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. Aung was the second-place winner in the September photo challenge (see CUNY's Facebook page).


October '13 - Winner #2

Octo 2013 winner Octo 2013 photo

"Flight Crew" exemplifies the exuberance of Queens College's Filipino club of the same name, showing how hard students can party – even if the Princeton Review consistently lists Queens as among the Top 20 Sober Schools in the country (this year it's number 13). "This is just a fraction of how much fun we have as a club, as friends and as family," says photographer Erick Dabandan. "When I first met them, we had a pot luck in a member's house. We had a couple of picnics during the summer, play sports, go to the gym, participate in open mics and talent shows – one is coming up Nov. 7 – and when we go to a party, we are the party. I'm hoping more people join our club. I promise we don't bite."

Erick Dabandan earned an associate degree at Queensborough Community College in 2011 and took time off to, among other things, travel to Canada and Florida. He’s majoring in accounting at Queens College and expects to graduate in 2015. He made this photo while Flight Crew was having a good time and later decided to submit it to the CUNY Photo Challenge. In his spare time, he likes doing band and club photography and working out in the gym. In the future, "Besides graduating and getting a really good job, I wouldn't mind owning my own little bar."


September '13 - Winner #1

Sept 2013 winner Sept 2013 winning image

"Budget Transportation" captures the increasing popularity of the bicycle as a means of getting to and from CUNY campuses. Photographer Daniel Smith says, "The high price of the [public transit] fare, combined with daily expenses, makes students and professors seek alternative routes to school and work."

Daniel Smith, a junior and an Army veteran, is an environmental science major at Brooklyn College. He made this photograph with the CUNY Photo Challenge in mind, explaining that it documents "the amount of bicycles and motorcycles that are present on any given day." Calling himself an environmental activist, he intends to work with and protect the environment while using photography to capture what he sees. He has just started a photo-oriented blog at; it features portraits and an image made when he was deployed in Kuwait in 2010.


Use your camera to capture a compelling moment at CUNY and win an iPad! Enter our monthly student photo competition by the 25th of every month and, if you're a winner, you and your photo will be featured during the following month on the homepage billboard, the contest winners page and CUNY Facebook, which also will show two runners-up. In June 2014, the winning photos will compete for best student photo of the year, with the top photographer being awarded an iPad.

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What judges look for: Our panel of professional photographers, editors and graphic artists looks for images that say something about our students, faculty, staff, a CUNY college or a campus activity. Images that tell stories are especially favored, including human interest topics and depictions. For the winning photos of 2011-2012, click here; for the winning photos of 2012-2013, click here.

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