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Great Heights and Grand Views:  15th IBEW Photo Contest Winners

December 14, 2012

Local 98 members donate Thanksgiving dinners to Sandy victims

Like something out of science fiction, Folsom, N.J., Local 351 member Bill DeClement’s stunning image of two IBEW members in a window lift above fog-drenched ocean entranced voters in this year’s photo contest.

DeClement’s shot earned top honors in the 15th year of the competition, which was decided by IBEW members and the public via online voting in December.

Judges considered nearly 400 entries sent from across the U.S. and Canada. Voters then picked their favorites of 15 finalists. This is the fourth year the contest featured online voting, and hundreds made their voices heard after the finalists were announced on www.ibew.org.

Seattle Local 77 member Bill Strite garnered second place accolades for his photo of a lineman team knuckling down to repair a broken cable in an icy wilderness.

Third place honors went to Charlotte, N.C., Local 962 member Paul Phillips for his visceral upward view of a lineman working in a snowstorm in a rural part of the state.

First Place Winner ($200)
Bill DeClement , Folsom, N.J., Local 351

Atlantic City’s casinos, hotels, shows and attractions boast some stellar views. But few can match the perspective of what you see through the eyes of an electrician working on what is now the largest building in the city, the 48-story Revel Casino.

DeClement snapped this captivating photo of two members riding in a window rig at about 7 a.m. one morning when a blanket of fog rolled in, swaddling the ocean and city below.

“It was one of the eeriest things I’d ever seen,” says DeClement, 42:

You could see just the tops of some buildings around us, and then there’s the water in the background of the picture – it just felt unreal.

The photography enthusiast didn’t have his high tech camera with him on the job site, so he snapped the futuristic-looking scene with his iPhone.

“I later uploaded it into Aperture [a photo editing computer program], but I didn’t have to tweak it,” he said. The cerulean sky and puffy clouds are as close to real life as DeClement saw that morning.

This wasn’t the 18-year member’s first trip atop one of the city’s giants. DeClement and his co-workers have wired the area’s most popular hotels and casinos, including Harrah's Resort and The Borgata.

“I’ve been on top of them all,” he said.

Second Place Winner ($150)
Bill Strite, Seattle Local 77

When snow and ice snare the electrical infrastructure in the wooded bluffs of Washington’s outlying areas, Bill Strite goes where snowmobiles fear to tread.

Strite and his four-man team were called out last winter to repair a downed power line that feeds radio towers on Monumental Mountain in the northeastern part of the state. But because of the terrain, the only way in was with their snowshoes.

“We had hiked in the last half mile, and there was severe ice,” said Strite, who brought his digital camera with him in case the group saw any wildlife:

It’s not unusual to see something moving around up there.

Instead, he and his co-workers were treated to a splendid vista – rich evergreens glazed with ice giving way to a broad expanse cut by the Columbia River, just behind the Grand Coulee Dam. Strite made his way to higher ground to snap the photo.

A 32-year employee of Avista Utility, Strite said he enjoys photographing the natural world around his home near Colville in the northeast region of the state. “There are several thousand acres of timberland out there,” he said:

I’ve come in contact with moose, bears, cougars – there’s a lot to see.

Third Place Third Place Winner ($100)
Paul Phillips, Charlotte, N.C., Local 962

Blinding snow and a tasteful use of black-and-white processing blend together in Phillips’ photo of fellow member Joe Long working with his tools atop a pole in the midst of severe weather. It’s an interesting spin on an iconic image in the Brotherhood – a stark rendering of a worker that only leaves room for skill, determination and good-old-fashioned guts.

“It was snowing hard, everything around was just white and there was no color to the sky,” said Phillips, a 22-year member:

I knew black and white was the way to go.

It’s a rugged image. Joe’s beard, the old pole – it’s not a neat or clean photo. I like the old, rustic look.

Honorable Mentions ($50 each)

Honorable Mention 1 Angelo Morgan, Seattle Local 77

Transmission lines rise out of glowing snow in this chilling portrait of winter. Morgan captured the essence of the season near the Palouse River in northern Idaho.


Honorable Mention 2 Tom Lawless, Long Island, N.Y., Local 25

Lawless’ lush nighttime image shows the vivid lights on the George Washington Bridge illuminating the corridor that leads into the Bronx, New York’s northernmost borough.



Some voters may have noticed a drastic fluctuation in vote numbers online toward the end of the contest. After thoroughly vetting the legitimacy of votes as they arrived, contest judges noticed irregularities with the numbers. Many came from the same IP address – indicating that some parties had voted multiple times on the same computer after working around the safeguard to assure single voting by individuals. Two entrants were disqualified as a result of these actions. We appreciate the hundreds of voters who played by the rules, voted once, and kept the healthy sprit of fun intact in this year’s competition.


Top photo used under a Creative Commons license from Flickr user windsordi.