Photographer earns national nomination

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Apr 09, 2014 08:23 am

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An Okotoks photographer who captured a heart-wrenching scene with his camera during the 2013 flood in High River is a finalist in two national photography competitions.

Western Wheel photographer Jordan Verlage’s picture of High River resident Kevan Yeats swimming behind his cat Momo in the raging Highwood River on June 20, with his pickup truck sinking behind him, is being considered for the 2013 National Picture of the Year Award by the News Photographers Association of Canada and the best news photo for the National Newspaper Award. The photo won the Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association 2013 ATCO Photographic Award for spot news in January.

“I knew it was a special photo,” he said. “It was one of those once in a lifetime photos.”

Working as a freelance photographer for the Western Wheel at the time, Verlage was standing on the banks of the Highwood River taking pictures when he noticed a pickup truck sinking in the water about a football field length away.

He watched as Yeats, with Momo in his arms, crawled out the back window. The cat leapt into the raging water and Yeats jumped in after. Both were later rescued.

Verlage said he took hundreds of pictures that day, but this one stood out.

“You can see him in mid stroke and see the expression on his face,” he said. “It just captures the essence of what he’s going through – sort of a life and death situation.”

Verlage immediately sold the photograph to the Canadian Press. It was featured on the front page of the Globe and Mail and Toronto Star, as well as in newspapers around the world including England, Australia and the Philippines.

He was interviewed by CBC Radio and CTV National News, and received an email from Hollywood film producer Gail Mutrux commending the photo.

“People love animals and I think it is extraordinary to see a cat swimming for its life,” he said. “The most rewarding thing about it is that the whole world got to see what the people in High River were actually experiencing. A lot of people thought it was an amazing moment.”

The winner of the two competitions will be announced in May.


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