September 22, 2011
Writer: Writer: Jessica McIntyre

At the world's largest digital photography and lighting conference, Brigham Young University-Idaho students showed they could hold their own against some of the best photography professionals in the industry.

With thousands of attendees and hundreds of photos entered, three BYU-Idaho students landed four of the 21 finalist spots in the Guru Awards, with one taking first place. Recent graduate Andrea Hernandez won the Guru Award in the "Photo Retouching" category, while current students Thane Clark and Blake Jackson were finalists in the "Photo Restoration" and "Photo Retouching" categories.

"Many of the industry's top professionals were so impressed with our students' work that several career opportunities have already opened up," said Caryn Esplin, BYU-Idaho Photographics Society advisor.

Blake Jackson, a senior, submitted a photo of his 87-year-old great-grandfather. After researching different restoration processes, Jackson took a damaged black-and-white photo and turned it into color.

"Initially, I was shocked that I was a finalist; it is such an honor to have very influential professionals in the photography industry recognizing my work," said Jackson. "Having it be an internationally recognized award, I saw the value of having that honor listed on my resume. It brings true value to my work."

The Photoshop World Conference was held in Las Vegas, Sept. 5-10, and played host to thousands of photography and Photoshop professionals. The conference included portfolio reviews, over 100 workshops and photography contests.

*See Andrea's winning entry by visiting