How Pictures of the Year and College Photographer of the Year elevated their presentation using the MediaStorm Platform

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I have a long history with the Pictures of the Year and College Photographer of the Year contests. 

They have been guiding pillars throughout my 27-year career as they set the standard for quality visual storytelling. I took a walk down memory lane and put together the back story.

It is fitting—as MediaStorm enters our next chapter, with the MediaStorm Platform as a central element of our strategy—that these two contests are some of our first public implementations of this powerful new toolset.

I sat down with the directors of each contest, CPOY’s Jackie Bell and POY’s Lynden Steele, to discuss how the MediaStorm Platform supports their vision for the future.


POY & CPOY were running custom, hand-built sites that were maintained by student volunteers. Of course, those students eventually graduate and the custom code that required unique knowledge to maintain was hard to transfer from one semester to the next.

Both POY and CPOY wanted to:

  • Find an easy to use and modern toolset to present the best photography in the world.
  • Solve inefficiencies created by high student turnover and custom code
  • Create synergies between POY and CPOY offering
  • Support future integrations with POY Latam and POY Asia


For CPOY, the entire hand-built site was replaced with a single responsive website release using the MediaStorm Platform.

POY utilized a series of embeddable players to showcase the winning images. Locator maps, related links and direct links to license images have been added to many of the images to provide greater context and transactional benefits to the photographers.


  • Improved image size and site responsiveness
  • Related information and context or each image
  • Consistent top-level branding and promotion of sponsors and partners
  • Improved site-wide navigation created a path for showcasing over 75 years of results
  • Entire site is embeddable with deep linking
  • A more inspired and unified team


The MediaStorm Platform supports covers, in a variety of layouts, to provide compelling visual entry points to content. CPOY’s homepage and Winners Gallery have grid covers to position the overall offering. POY used covers for each of the story and portfolio categories.


Photographers and organizations are linked to help drive more awareness to their work.

In some cases, the location of the image, the judges’ commentary and links to license the image are shown in the sidebar.

Screencasts Playlist

Over 25 hours of screencast video of the judging process is available in a playlist.

New Features added

Ability to batch edit metadata: A major component of both organizations’ publishing workflows involves adding related metadata for each image. In some cases, that metadata is the same across multiple images. To help accelerate this task, we added the ability to Copy Metadata Between Items.

Ability to customize site navigation: By default, a Website Release will display a navigation that is generated automatically based on the structure of the “Content” panel in the release. However, you may choose to enable custom navigation via the “Navigation” panel of a release for finer-grained control.

Lynden Steele, Director, Pictures of the Year

“So many platforms treat visual stories as an afterthought, or as something to be attached like a decoration. With the MediaStorm Platform, the visuals are the story. It recognizes and honors the needs of visual storytelling.

Since its beginning in 1944, POY has been staffed by students. They learn about photojournalism through the competition. The MediaStorm Platform equips our students with cutting edge skills. I’m excited that they can use the toolset because it will equip them with a sophisticated skill set as they start their careers. It’s even intuitive enough that I can teach it to new students every year.

The MediaStorm Platform will allow POY to focus more of our future effort on the photographers’ work. We can add an incredible amount of context to the photographers’ work that will make visiting the POY site much more valuable.

In some systems I feel like you have to create work around techniques in order to present visual content well. With the MediaStorm Platform, it’s a straight-forward process. The toolset is really responsive. I can see my changes quickly and I feel like my effort is rewarded.”

Jackie Bell, Director, College Photographer of the Year

“It is an incredible platform for visual storytellers. The visuals are treated well and look fantastic.

I use the platform as a website because I needed a new, modern site to display our award-winning images.

I’m able to attach related content to the Winners Gallery in a way I’ve never done. Now, after posting videos, screencasts and graphics on social media, I can permanently place them next to the winning entries as related content. 

The covers look beautiful and offer another level of navigation. One of my favorite new features is linking the photographers’ websites to their winning work to give them greater recognition. 

The tools are easy to use. I can control my website myself, and for the first time I don’t need a coder on staff. 

I also look forward to adding tools as we continue to add content. I’m excited about timelines and maps, which we will begin adding in the fall.”

You can learn more about how Pictures of the Year and College Photographer of the Year have been guiding pillars of my career.

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