SMC Student Photojournalists Win Top PPAGLA Honors


The following article, images and captions all provided by Santa Monica College.

Two Santa Monica College (SMC) student photojournalists—both of whom have been on the staff of SMC’s award-winning student-run media outlet The Corsair—have received top honors from the Press Photographers Association of Greater Los Angeles (PPAGLA). Jon Putman received the Student Still Photographer of the Year award at a ceremony held Saturday, April 20 at Mayne Events Center in Bellflower, CA; Caylo Seals was named runner-up.

PPAGLA has recognized student journalist for 33 of its 88-year history. Student awards are sponsored by the Past Presidents and Retired Members Fund, as well as Nikon USA. Putman and Seals received recognition for their work published in 2023 in The Corsair.

About Putnam’s winning photos, the judges wrote: “The first-place winner edged out the runner up with a slightly stronger photo story. The Photojournalist showed skill in all categories. The photographs were consistently well composed, including clean backgrounds helping to make the images immediately impactful upon viewing. This photographer could show their work to a news outlet or potential employer with confidence, knowing that improvement is a matter of continuing the effort and passion that is apparent in the capturing of these images.”

“I am always enthralled by the professional zeal that students like Jon Putman and Caylo Seals apply to the craft of photojournalism,” said SMC photojournalism professor and Corsair photo adviser Gerard Burkhart. “The PPAGLA is a professional organization with steep local competition. These two SMC Corsair photographers are joining an 18 year history of Corsair photographers dominating this competition.”

Founded in 1936, PPAGLA is an organization of still and video photojournalists, independent photographers, and photojournalism students who “work on newspapers, television stations, wire services, and national news and sports publications throughout Southern California.” The 400-member association includes 20 Pulitzer Prize-winning photographers, both individual and staff, and several Peabody video winners. More information is available at

The Corsair staff produces a bi-weekly newspaper in the spring and fall semesters, currently available on, online at thecorsaironline.comThe Corsair is also on Instagram: @corsairnews. Faculty advisers are journalism professors Sharyn ObsatzSamantha Nuñez, and photojournalism professor Gerard Burkhart.

SMC offers an Associate in Arts for Transfer degree in journalism and an Associate in Arts degree in journalism-multimedia storytelling. Learn more at

Jovan Lozano, fire Captain for the Cal Fire battalion unit out of Jurupa Valley, looks upon the Rabbit Fire as the team sits by on July 14, 2023 in Moreno Valley, Calif. The fire grew to an estimated 7,950 acres before it was contained. Photo by Jon Putnam.
A woman can be seen crying after speaking with a translator who was relaying updates and news on the current situations at the processing facility on May 12, 2023 at the San Ysidro border.
Rebecca Dannenbaum, a Venice Beach native known by her friends as Prophet, searching for a phone charger on her bed in the RV that she lives on Venice Blvd. in Los Angeles, Calif., on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023. Dannenbaum was adopted by a Jewish family at three weeks old and moved to Venice when she was almost four. She has spent all but 14 years of her life AWOL, “Always West of Lincoln.”

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