The MVA judge selection process is one of the most crucial parts of the program. Each judge will use their knowledge of photography or videography,  background and experience to yield an unbiased assessment of high quality military imagery. They will rank their choices of the top photographs in each category 1st thru 3rd and one honorable mention. This year we require each judge to video-record their judging process, share their thoughts and keep notes. The recording and notes will be summarized and uploaded to the MVA website at the conclusion of the contest for all competitors to review and learn from.

Jeremy Lock

Jeremy Lock


For the past 21 years, photojournalist and now retired military photographer Jeremy Lock directed his lens towards the elements of the world that many of us will never have the opportunity or even the desire to see first hand.  His images are beautiful, heartbreaking, provocative and devastating – sometimes all in the same frame.

"My photographic journey is rooted in my ability to capture the essence and reality of humanity at its finest and at its worst," says Lock. "I've captured everything from the hunt for Osama bin Laden, to the playful nature of our young military who are defending our freedom, and the plight of humans in search of food after the Haiti earthquake disaster."

Lock is not only an accomplished military veteran receiving the Bronze Star Medal for distinguished service in Iraq, his experience as a seasoned photojournalist have led to his work being published in magazines, newspapers and books including National Geographic, Time, New York Times, The Washington Post among others. His work has also earned multiple awards from prestigious organizations including World Press Photo, National Press Photographers Association and Oasis.

“Not only do I get to live my life, but I’ve been able to live the lives of those I photograph, even if it was just for a moment,” notes Lock. “I constantly want to share my experiences to remind myself and others that what I am doing is very important and the world needs to see it. I like to think the experiences haven’t changed me, but I know they have, and I’m thankful for that change. There is more to the world than what is outside your front door.”

Callie Shell

Callie Shell


Callie Shell has worked as a photographer for CNN since 2015 and Time magazine since 2001. She first photographed Barack Obama in 2004 before he was elected to the United States Senate, following him into the White House as the forty-fourth president of the United States.

Shell documented the historic campaign, election, and presidency from a unique personal and private perspective. Her photographs have garnered many awards, including recognition from World Press Photo.

She previously served eight years as the official photographer for Vice President Al Gore during the Clinton administration and was a staff photographer at the Pittsburgh Press, USA Today, and the Tennessean.

Callie Shell first photographed Barack Obama before he was elected to the Illinois Senate and followed him into the White House. She shot more than 400,000 images of the Obamas, many behind closed doors. Shell served as official photographer for Vice President Al Gore for eight years, and has worked for Time since 2001 and CNN since 2015. She won the World Press Photo Award in 2009 for her photos of Barack Obama.

Her work has been published, exhibited, and collected in magazines, books, and galleries throughout the world. She lives on Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, with her son and husband.

Stacy Pearsall

Stacy Pearsall


Stacy L. Pearsall got her start as an Air Force photographer at the age of seventeen. During her time in service she traveled to over 41 countries and attended the Military Photojournalism Program at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. In three combat tours she earned the Bronze Star Medal and Air Force Commendation with Valor for actions in Iraq.

She is now an independent photographer, an author, educator, military consultant and the founder of the Veterans Portrait Project, which began in 2008 while she rehabilitated from combat injuries sustained in Iraq. Spending hours in VA waiting rooms surrounded by veterans from every generation and branch of service, she was compelled to honor and thank them in the only way she knows—through her photography.

Since then she has traveled coast to coast to photograph over 6,000 veterans.

Stacy's photography has been exhibited at The Woodruff Arts Center, the Pentagon, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery and the National Veterans Memorial and Museum among numerous other galleries and venues.

She was one of only three women to win the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) Military Photographer of the Year competition, and has earned it twice.

Stacy is the author of Shooter: Combat from Behind the Camera, and A Photojournalist's Field Guide: In the Trenches with Combat Photographer Stacy Pearsall.

Tommy Gilligan

Tommy Gilligan


Tommy Gilligan routinely photographs for USA TODAY Sports and works as an instructor at the Defense Information School teaching service members advance photography and videography.

He is a highly talented, accomplished professional consistently recognized for achievement and performance in the media industry. Profound technical expertise and creativity with cross-platform informational communications. Has earned a stellar reputation for responsiveness, accuracy, and fairness with employers and the news media. Hardworking, excels under pressure; flexible and versatile team player; extremely organized and efficient.

Brien Aho

Brien Aho


Brien retired from the Navy after 20 years as a Photojournalist and has photographed in 45 countries. As an instructor at the Defense Information School he helped to mold the future of military photographers. After graduating from the 2002 Advanced Military Photojournalism program at Newhouse School of Communications, Syracuse University, Brien started working as a combat photojournalist at Combat Camera, Atlantic where he completed tours in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay Cuba. He is a six-time first place winner at the Military Photographer of the Year competition in different categories and also won the prestigious Communicator Award for “The Road to Recovery” a photo documentary about burn patients recovery. Former President of the D.C. chapter of the National Association of Naval Photography, Brien co-founded and helped produce their annual 3 day photography workshop “The D.C. Shoot Off” a workshop open to all government and DOD military photographers. 

Most of Brien’s photos are portraits: snapshots of people that reveal the quintessence of human expression. He looks for the candid moment and shares it with the world. After being inspired by the 1985 National Geographic cover by Steve McCurry he hasn’t stopped trying to photograph the human spirit. 

Brien lives in Maryland and is currently using his photography skills working for the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. He has been published in numerous books, magazines and newspapers such as National Geographic, Time, Newsweek, GQ, Washington Post and the New York Times. His work appears in many books pertaining to the war in Iraq like the critically acclaimed ‘This Is Our War”. 

Drew Geraci

Drew Geraci


Andrew 'Drew' Geraci is a passionate and award-winning photographer/cinematographer who has been in the media industry for over 15 years. At 17, he enlisted in the United States Navy and served as a Mass Communication specialist. During his time in the Navy, he was deployed to aircraft carriers, exotic overseas locations, and traveled the globe documenting military activities.

After nearly a decade of service, he hung up his uniform and signed on as Senior Multimedia Producer for the Washington Times in Washington, DC. His role as a visual storyteller and leader would eventually lead him to create his own business which he currently operates and owns - District 7 Media.

Drew has an affinity for creating brilliantly colored and high impact HDR motion time-lapse and video productions. His notoriety rose when he landed a job working with David Fincher to create the now-iconic House of Cards opening credits for Netflix. His work has appeared in shows/advertisements produced by the NFL, HBO, Redbull, Sony, Apple, Nike, Discovery Channel, Cartier and more.

Matthew Callahan

Matthew Callahan


Matthew Callahan is a recently separated public affairs specialist for the U.S. Marine Corps. He is a multi-award winning multimedia storyteller and the first service member to be named the military videographer of the year and military photographer of the year simultaneously in Department of Defense history.

When not photographing people, Matthew continues to work on his love letter to Star Wars and the military in his sprawling photo essay, Galactic Warfighters.

2018 Judging Videos

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