Photojournalism professor's photograph finalist in Alaskan quarter design competition


Alaska's America the Beautiful quarter may feature a photograph by assistant professor of journalism Kent Miller.

Ingrid Nixon, chief of interpretation for Denali National Park and Preserve, submitted Miller’s photograph of a hiker looking in the distance at Mount McKinley to the U.S. Mint.

The park employees were asked to submit photographs and images that spoke to the park’s significance.

“Among the images included in park photo submission were photos of Mount McKinley. The photos submitted, however, did not have enough detail for the artists to create realistic looking ice textures for Denali," Nixon said in an email. "A few photos by Kent Miller provided that level of detail."

Miller’s photo of the hiker, taken during a trip in 2009, was not planned.

"We happened upon him and asked if he minded if we took his picture," Miller said.

The America the Beautiful quarters were first issued by the U.S. Mint in 2010. They depict national parks and sites from around the nation; they will run through 2021 with five designs released each year. The Alaskan quarter, depicting a scene representing Denali National Park, is set to run in 2012.

Miller first visited Denali in 2008 when he was on an Alaskan cruise with his family. He decided he wanted to be involved in Alaska in a concrete way and offered his services as a volunteer to Denali National Park. He applied to be a volunteer photographer at the park and submitted his portfolio. He has since returned to the park in 2009 and 2010 and donated numerous photos to Denali National Park and the National Park Service.

“It was an incredible experience," Miller said. "Everyone was so nice."

In 2008, Miller received the Harry Hassinger Volunteer of the Year Award for the Alaska region, for his photographic contributions to Denali.

“The park values highly the work of Kent Miller,” Nixon said. “The contribution of his time and fine photographs has contributed immeasurably to (the) park’s ability to tell Denali’s stories.”

Miller’s involvement with the park has also allowed for the park to employ a Central Michigan University student intern every summer.

The final decision on the Alaskan design will be made by the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, after all final candidate designs are reviewed for accuracy and representation by the Secretary of the Interior, the Commission of Fine Arts, the chief executive of the host jurisdiction and the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.

“It clearly is a great honor for Professor Miller to have his photographic work selected for the Alaskan America the Beautiful quarter,” said Maria Marron, journalism department chairwoman.

Miller's photo is one of five choices.

“It’s unlikely my photo will be chosen, but you never know," Miller said.


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