Matt Sweetwood, John H. White Among Honorees

 Las Vegas – January 5 – The imaging industry turned out last night to honor four members of the imaging community and one spectacular camera at the 50th Annual PMDA Imaging Night event at The Foundry Hall at the SLS Hotel.

Matt Sweetwood was honored as PMDA Person of the Year for his years of service as president of Unique Photo and for his involvement in the Josephine Herrick Project. Pulitzer prize photojournalist John H. White, Eyefi co-founder Berend Ozceri and surfing visionary photographer Chris Burkard also received recognition at the event.

The evening began with a surprise performance by new Epic artists AudioDamn!, who delighted the crowd with their four song acoustic set. PMDA President Jim Malcolm then welcomed the more than 160 guests and talked about the mission and accomplishments of the PMDA. “Conversation, Education, Inspiration and Giving Back are the hall marks of the PMDA,” he said.  He also acknowledged outgoing president Dan Unger for his years of service to the PMDA.

He then introduced Executive Director Jerry Grossman, who showcased The PDMA’s Portraits of Love program.  “We have already hit our goal of sending 10,000 free family portraits to deployed soldiers around the world, and with the help of our partnership with the USO, we’re setting our sites on the next 20,000,” he said. Grossman then welcomed Portraits of Love photographer John Bentham to the stage, who related some emotional stories of the many portraits he’s taken for the program.

The award began in earnest when Sony’s Neal Manowitz introduced Visionary Photographer Award winner Chris Burkard, who’s presentation and discussion of his surf images and challenged the industry to experience the joys of taking those images that challenge us all.  His images and uplifting talk left the crowd mesmerized. Following this, Eye-fi CEO Matt DiMaria presented the Herbert Keppler Technical Achievement Award to Eye-fi co-founder Berend Ozceri, who reminisced about the early days of computing, and the abilities that we all have now to share images instantly.

Nikon’s Marc Cutler then introduced John H. White, the winner of the PMDA’s Lifetime Achievement in Photography Award. In his quiet but powerful voice, White took the crowd on a journey through history, as seen by this extraordinary Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist. Shot primarily in black and white, White highlighted some of the most defining moments of history, and in just moments he had an emotional connection to the audience.  With his most recent images, he encouraged the audience to “keep in flight,” and related this award as “just as important as his Pulitzer,” as it embodied his lifetime of work.

 Popular Photography’s Editor in Chief, Miriam Leuchter, then came to the stage to announce their coveted “Camera of the Year” award. Given for the first time at the PMDA event, the prize was award to the Sony A7r II, whose table leaped to their feet celebrating their big win.

 Grossman then delivered a moving dedication to former PMDA board member Anthony Ruotolo, who passed away suddenly last June. A friend to most of the people in the room, Ruotolo was remembered as a tireless advocate for young photographers and a major contributor to the PMDA organization. The crowd offered a rousing standing ovation in his honor.

 Malcolm then returned to the stage to present the Person of the Year award to Matt Sweetwood. His acceptance speech spoke to the responsibility of the industry to give back, and his dedication to his family as his most important mission.

 Malcolm then returned to bring an end to the joyous and memorable evening.