Chasing the Light Photo & Film Competition Winners Announced!


Chasing the Light photo contest winner Senior Priscilla Heredia with Al Diaz and Ms. Elena Capablanca.


Back in March, the ILS Photography Club announced a new photo and film competition exclusives to ILS students. The competition is named after Al Diaz, an ILS alumni who began his photo journalism career right here in the ILS photo club. Last Thursday, the Photography Club and contest judges, most of whom were ILS alumni as well, announced the winners for the different categories.

Chasing the Light at ILS recognizes the best photography by the ILS students during the 2020-2021 school year. In the spirit of photojournalism, this year’s categories included News, Feature, Sports, Portrait and Picture Story. A Pandemic category was also included to represent thee current reality. Photographers were allowed to submit photographs to several categories specific to this year.

Senior Priscilla Heredia won first place in the photo contest for her brilliant shot of an ILS lacrosse team huddle. The striking image balances the light and shows the connectivity of not only the team but light in nature as well.

Sophomore Paulina Marin came in second place and junior Emilio Batista came in third place. Honorable mentions went out to seniors Soshanna Arguello, Priscilla Heredia and Ana Santana, as well as freshmen Gabriella Costa, Isabella Costa, Maya Martinez and Victoria Pla.

Winner of the Luis Palomo ILS Film Shorts Contest was senior Sebastian Giugovaz, who is fresh off an impressive run at the State Track and Field championships. Guigovaz’s short “In My Head” demonstrated his skill and narrative voice. Not only is Giugovaz a talented athlete, he’s a compelling filmmaker as well.

Second place in the film contest went to junior Deanna Prieto and third place honors went to sophomores Maria Parra and Santiago Quiros. Honorable mentions went out to seniors Sofia Farres and Sophia Rabelo, as well as junior Aurora Quaglini.

The Film Shorts Contest was dedicated in memory of Luis Palomo, a caring ILS alumni (Class of 1972) who shared a passion for film and photography.

Palomo was a successful director who mentored many young professionals throughout his long career in commercial advertising. A lifelong advocate of the arts, Palomo was also a founding member of the City of Miami’s Art and Entertainment Council instrumental in Little Havana’s revitalization as a cultural arts hub. Palomo passed away on January 14th, 2021 from complications caused by COVID-19.

Those interested can view the winning images and films here. First, second and third place winners in these contests received cash prizes. Photo contest winners also received gifts from the contest’s sponsors, Think Tank Photo and Red Fish restaurant.

“We would like to thank all the students who participated in the Al Diaz Chasing the Light ILS Photo & Film Contest. You along with our Alumni helped to make it a successful first year even during this pandemic!” read the Instagram caption from the ILS social media team.

The judges for this competition included a number of successful ILS alumni. Al Diaz, ILS Class of 1976, led the charge for this contest. In a letter to the students announcing the contest, Diaz revealed his lifelong journey as a photojournalist started here at ILS, in room 805 where the Photo Club used to meet.

For Diaz, visualization started at ILS. He said former ILS football coach, Carmen Grosso, incorporated visualization into the team’s practices and Diaz eventually incorporated it into his professional life as an award-winning photojournalist.

“Visualizing helps me prepare and be ready before the moment,” he said in the letter.

Diaz aided in the judging of the contest, as did Gustavo Pupo-Mayo, who Diaz said helped welcome him into the ILS Photo Club back in 1972. Pupo-Mayo, ILS Class of 1974, is the founding President and CEO of MGM Networks Latin America LLC. He also spearheaded the creation of the largest and most successful Spanish-language daily newspaper in the U.S., El Nuevo Herald.

Among the other judges were: Mercedes Palomo, ILS Class of 1974 and executive producer and founder of OndaFilms, a film and video production company; Maria Bures, ILS Class of 1976 who is a producer and director in her own right; Elliott Rodriguez, ILS Class of 1974 and an Emmy award winning journalist; and Sandy Levy, an award winning photographer.

The judges provided excellent feedback to all of the participants and commented throughout Thursday’s award presentation in the SLC.

“I hope that it will inspire ILS students to visualize the moment while chasing the light, at ILS, and the South Florida community,” Diaz said.

With the success of this year’s contest, there’s no doubt the ILS Photography Club will run another Chasing the Light contest next year.