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Corporal Justin A. Bopp, the reproduction graphics production chief with 1st Marine Division Combat Camera, and a native of Des Moines, Iowa, placed in several categories in the 2013 Visual Information Awards Program contest. Most notably, he placed first in publication and was the runner up for military graphic artist of the year. The VIAP contest is a prestigious competition held by the Defense Information School aboard Fort George G. Meade, Md. The service members products were evaluated by professional judges who all were experts in their fields. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. David Silvano/released)

Photo by Lance Cpl. David Silvano

Division Combat Camera Sweeps VIAP Competition

3 Apr 2014 | Lance Cpl. David Silvano

The room sits in silence as the judges deliberate to reach a decision. Years of work and dedication for some culminate to this moment, and it's either heart break or elation when the judges make their call. 

For the 1st Marine Division Combat Camera shop here, the overall mood was ecstatic as they excelled in more than nine categories at the 2013 Visual Information Awards Program March 17.

The competition between all branches of the military is held by the Defense Information School aboard Fort George G. Meade, Md. Judges are made up of civilian photographers, videographers, editors and artists who are all experts in their fields. 

Sergeant Kowshon Ye, a combat videographer with the shop, and a native of Miami, Fla., was one of many Marines that excelled in the VIAP. He won first place in operational combat documentation and received an honorable mention for a portrait photograph he took.

"I was surprised," Ye said. "I wasn't expecting to place in the competition at all."

Ye joined the Marine Corps wanting to be a combat photographer and his passion for his craft has led to him earning the prestigious award. Ye received his award for a photo he took in the summer of 2013 that he decided to enter into the competition. He was not alone in his victory either. There were several other Marines from 1st MarDiv Combat Camera who placed highly in the competition.

Corporal Justin A. Bopp, the reproduction graphics production chief with the shop, and a native of Des Moines, Iowa, won several awards during the VIAP. Through his stand out photography, Bopp earned first place in publication, second place in animation, second place in layout and design and was even named the runner up for military graphic artist of the year.

Bopp said he is most proud of his first place in publication award, because he put his heart and soul into working on that publication. Bopp said he spent eight months working tirelessly on his publication project. Some days he would take his hard drive and computer home to fine tune the publication.

Bopp even created a digital interactive version of his 124 page publication titled "Visual Innovators", which featured video productions as well as the photos and quotes from the physical publication.

Bopp said from submitting his work to the competition he was able to grow in his field. After receiving feedback from the judges,  Bopp said he now understands how he can improve his work in the future.

"This coming year, thanks to the feedback I got from the judges, I'm going to be able to be more versatile with my work so I can do even better next year," Bopp said.

The competition featured many of the Marines in the shop along with Ye and Bopp, some of which have since left the Marine Corps. After practically sweeping the competition, 1st MarDiv Combat Camera can hold their heads a little higher knowing they are not just your average combat camera Marines, but they are some of the best photographers and videographers in the Marine Corps.