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I’m still reeling from the events of Thursday afternoon. Please allow me a moment to compose myself. I am so honored and stunned to be named the first ever recipient of the Jim Amoss Award, awarded in honor of our former editor. I was surprised during a reception on the 31st floor at One Canal Place, in recognition of “extraordinary photojournalism, video production and feature writing while covering the Louisiana flood of 2016 and the disappearing community of Isle de Jean Charles, La.” As engraved on the crystal, “For timeless journalism that has earned the trust of the community and the respect of your colleagues.”

I don’t want this to sound like an Academies speech, but there are several people who I’m dying to raise up, and this is my opportunity - beginning with Jim Amoss, Mark Lorando, Carolyn Fox and Andrew Boyd, foremost for believing in me. We all need someone - at some point - to believe in us - someone to “open a door.” It is then that we must be prepared to walk through and perform to the utmost. Among my courageous door openers have been my former editors Charlie Ferguson, Kurt Mutschler and Doug Parker. The “blind faith” award goes to Robert Hart for hiring me in the first place. I am forever grateful to you all - not to mention the hundreds upon hundreds of amazingly talented journalists I have worked with over the decades. If I haven’t expressed it before, please know that I admire you and love you all dearly. We are family. As I said in my acceptance comments, I sincerely dedicate this to my amazing wife, Nancy, who believed in me first, and my boys Chris and Jeremy and by loving extension, their beautiful families, who tolerate my “photo mode”. Even little Austin, while watching early videos from his days of infancy, hears a motor drive burst in the background audio and says, “there’s Pop-Pop.” But it was Nancy who recognized my latent passion for photojournalism in 1979 and encouraged me to pursue a new career and an unknown adventure at USM through the incomparable Ed Wheeler. There’s so much more to say, and others to honor, but I’ll save that for another day and a more fitting opportunity. Your contribution is not forgotten. I love you all. “What a long, strange trip it’s been.” May it never end.

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