UC Berkeley News
Press Release

UC Berkeley Press Release

Students win Lange photo contest

– Two University of California, Berkeley, students have been named winners of the 2006 Dorothea Lange Fellowship for their photos exploring the lives of a campus janitor and of a 12-year-old aspiring boxer.

Jakob Schiller, 24, and Timothy Wheeler, 27, each will receive $4,000 to help finance future photographic projects. Both are students at the Graduate School of Journalism. Their photos can be seen online at: http://www.berkeley.edu/lange/2006/schiller.html and http://www.berkeley.edu/lange/2006/wheeler.html.

The competition, sponsored annually by the UC Berkeley Office of Public Affairs, is open to UC Berkeley faculty, graduate students, and seniors accepted for graduate work. The prize is given for outstanding work in documentary photography and a creative plan for future work.

Dorothea Lange is best known for her photos recording the lives of people during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Her husband and collaborator Paul Taylor was a UC Berkeley economics professor. Much of her work is in the collection of the Oakland Museum of California.

Jakob Schiller's winning work is a series of photos of UC Berkeley janitor Maria Silva, who works a 5 p.m.-1:30 a.m. shift cleaning UC Berkeley's Wheeler Hall. His black-and-white shots caught Silva meticulously cleaning a public restroom, catching a catnap at her desk and making tamales at her home.

A New Mexico native, Schiller said he has written extensively as a reporter about labor issues and is familiar with union-administration spats at UC Berkeley and at UC Santa Cruz, where he was an undergraduate.

"I'm aware of the issue of labor, and the struggle of people like Maria to make it in the Bay Area," Schiller said. "I think they deserve more respect."

"For 10 years, Maria has cleaned up after the students in Wheeler Hall," he wrote in a letter to the Lange fellowship committee. "Each night she puts the building back together so these same students have clean and organized classrooms to learn in the next day. By now, she's used to students forgetting to acknowledge her work."

Schiller said he spent long hours accompanying Silva as she worked, eating dinner with her, sharing jokes and practicing his Spanish. Over the five months he pursued this photo project, he became friends with Silva and took photos of her daughter's Quinceanera, the traditional birthday party for 15-year-old girls in Latino cultures.

He opted to take his photos in black and white, using a Nikon N90 film camera, after journalism school lecturer Mimi Chakarova (a former Lange award winner herself) advised him that he seemed distracted when shooting color photos. The change, Schiller said, helped him concentrate on his photos' composition and on the moments they capture.

His current photo project focuses on a 39-year-old San Jose man who spent 18 months in Iraq with the National Guard and now suffers from acute post-traumatic stress disorder.

Co-winner Timothy Wheeler said that while working at the Phnom Penh Post in Cambodia last summer, he photographed numerous kickboxers from one of the city's most impoverished ghettos. Some of those photos, and others of a champion 12-year-old boxer in the United States, Tyler Terrazas of Vallejo, won him the Lange prize.

"While sanctioned as sport, boxing is compelling and brutal entertainment," Wheeler wrote the judging panel, "and heroes embody masculinity in its most pure form. I want to examine this sport at its most beautiful and disturbing."

He has followed the 95-pound Terrazas to tournaments throughout the state, en route to the boy's unsuccessful bid at the 2005 Silver Gloves National Championship in Independence, Mo., in February. Terrazas, who finished third in the country in 2004, is training three times a week and plans to compete in other tournaments this year, including the Junior Golden Gloves.

Wheeler plans to photograph Terrazas and other young athletes in their kickboxing sparring matches and competitive tournaments and in daily life for a year "to gain insight into why some kids become champions at 12 years old." He said he looks for the "nuances around the edge of the main action."

Wheeler took his photos in color, using a Nikon D70 digital camera with a single-lens reflex.

A native of Florida, he is interested in pursuing a career as a documentary photographer and is working on his master's thesis with fellow student Jordan Robertson, producing a documentary film about Terrazas and his family called "Beyond the Gloves." Wheeler is an associate producer for "Frontline/World," a PBS series of first-person stories from reporters and video journalists around the world.

He has reported in Brazil, Cambodia, Colombia, the Philippines, the Tohono O'odham Nation in Arizona, Indonesia, and Thailand. In March, he traveled to Bolivia for another photography project.

Before getting involved in journalism, Wheeler worked for human rights non-profit organizations in the United States and Latin America.

For complete information on the Dorothea Lange Fellowship, visit: http://www.berkeley.edu/lange.