Asheville High senior wins New York Times photo contest

SAY CHEESE: Emma Grace Moon says she's been obsessed with photography since she was 7 years old. Photo by Virginia Daffron

Asheville High senior and Xpress intern, Emma Grace Moon, remembers the first time she came into contact with a camera. She was 7 years old, and although she didn’t quite know how the contraption worked, she was intent on figuring it out. “Ever since then, I’ve been hooked on photography,” she says.

Earlier this summer, Moon participated in The School of New York Times nytEducation summer academy. While the two-week program focused on writing — another passion of Moon’s — it also involved an Instagram contest. With her DSLR camera in hand, Moon captured both the city and the contest’s first place prize.

THE WINNING SHOT: Emma Grace Moon took her winning photo while she and classmates explored Jackson Heights, a neighborhood in the northwestern portion of the borough of Queens.
THE WINNING SHOT: Emma Grace Moon took her winning photo while she and classmates explored Jackson Heights, a neighborhood in the northwestern portion of the borough of Queens. Photo by Emma Grace Moon

The winning photo came about during a trip to Jackson Heights, a neighborhood in the northwestern portion of the borough of Queens. In it a man, slightly hunched over, heads down the street with grocery bags pulling at his arms. Moon saw it as a chance to document the everyday people of New York, to show a quieter side of the city that never sleeps.

The photo will appear in print in The New York Times, later this fall (the date has yet to be determined). Along with its publication, Moon won an Apple Watch as part of her first place prize. And while she sports her latest accessory with pride, she notes the real reward came from the two week experience, working with former New York Times reporter and current Columbia journalism professor, Ari Goldman. She says the memories and connections she’s made are invaluable and that her writing has improved. All of this, she adds, “is going to rock me in the right direction.”

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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. He has worked with several publications, including Gulf Coast and the Collagist. For his weekly #tuesdayhistory tidbits on Asheville, follow him on Instagram @tcalder.

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