CM Life editor-in-chief earns Michigan College Photographer of the Year


Mount Pleasant senior lineman Chase Preston, front left, and Brody Hovey embrace while senior lineman James Hoyt hoists a chair above his head after pitching a shutout against Midland Dow 21-0 Oct. 17 at Community Memorial Stadium in Mount Pleasant, MI.

Central Michigan Life Editor-in-Chief Isaac Ritchey captured seven awards at Michigan Press Photographers Association's annual conference, including Michigan College Photographer of the Year.

MPPA is a 200-plus member organization, comprised of former, working and student photojournalists from throughout Michigan.  

Awards were judged and announced at a contest March 12-14, which was held virtually because of COVID-19. The competition recognized exceptional pictures taken in 2020.

The stills competition was judged by Ariel Zambelich, Andreas Morales and Michael Santiago. Julia Wall judged multimedia.

In addition to the CPOY honor, Ritchey was named Michigan Sports Photographer of the Year. He also received five awards for his picture story entries: first, second and third for sports picture story, second for feature picture story and an honorable mention for feature picture story.

"To hear someone say my photos are worthy of first place, that they are worthy of recognition, that’s really special,” Ritchey said. “I’m fortunate to get that recognition so early in my career.”  

Ritchey attributed much of his success to the mentorship he's found at CM Life and from former CM Life staff. Flint Journal chief photographer and Pulitzer Prize finalist Jake May is one of those mentors and was one of the first to congratulate him.  

May, a former CM Life editor-in-chief, was named Michigan Photographer of the Year by MPPA later the same day.  

As a full-time student and editor-in-chief, Ritchey said finding time to tell stories is sometimes hard to come by. Being away from the camera presents its own set of challenges. However, with graduation approaching, Ritchey said his main focus is relating his experiences and knowledge to the next generation of award-winning photojournalists at CMU. 

"CPOY doesn't mean anything when you're helping other student journalists, because I'm learning too. I feel like its my obligation as a senior at CMU to show them the ropes," Ritchey said. “When I click the shutter it’s never going to be a perfect image. Perfection is the goal, but it will never come.

"That feeds the drive to keep doing and improving"

A full list of winners can be found on MPPA's website

Ritchey's award-winning picture stories can be viewed below.

"His Lost Season" - Sports Picture Story 1st place 

"Sweet, Sweet Blue and Gold" - Sports Picture Story 2nd place

"All for Nothing?" - Sports Picture Story 3rd place 

"In CHARGE" - Feature Picture Story 2nd place

"The Waiting Game" - Feature Picture Story Honorable Mention