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Student’s photography captures national Costco award

February 3, 2011

Nick Stentzel's award-winning "I Love Uganda" photo. Reprinted with permission.

By Sarah Van Zanten

Chapman University student Nick Stentzel was sitting at home with his mother while she was reading the Costco Connection, a lifestyle magazine for Costco members.  She saw the ad for the Costco International Photo Contest and told Nick he had to sign up.

“Fine, if you pick out a photo from my blog or website, I’ll enter it,” said Nick.  Less than a minute later she made her choice — a striking photo of a girl at a chalkboard.

Nick entered the photo and didn’t think anything else of it.  This was the first individual photo contest Nick had ever entered, and three months had passed.

Nick, a graduate student in Chapman’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, was driving around one day and got a call from Costco’s public relations department.

“It was amazing!”  Nick said, “They told me I won first place in the United States, a $1,500 prize.  It was the last thing I expected to happen that day.”

The photo was taken at a school in Uganda.  Last summer Nick went to Uganda to film a documentary about a group of high school girls from the United States working with war-affected girls.

Nick grew up in a home surrounded by photography and his father’s love for the hobby.  The family bathroom doubled as a dark room.

“Photography just came naturally to me,” said Nick.  “It always makes me feel like home, no matter what dark room I am in.”

Nick hasn’t used the money yet but plans to invest it back into his photography business.

“I have always had an itch to travel and capture the world around me.  There is beauty everywhere, and I use my photography to show how the two go hand in hand.”

To see more of Nick’s pictures visit his blog.

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