The Country Music Association has selected Belmont University senior student Bennett Farkas as the recipient of the 2011 CMA Close Up Award of Merit. The award was created in 2007 to honor the student who demonstrated the most creativity, dedication and promise in covering the 2011 CMA Music Festival on assignment from CMA.
Farkas was presented the award during the backstage press conference coverage of "The 45th Annual CMA Awards" on Wednesday at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.
"CMA is proud to foster up-and-coming music journalists and photographers by offering them the tools and opportunities to hone their skills with this program," said Wendy Pearl, CMA Vice President of Corporate Communications.
Candidates for the CMA Close Up Award of Merit were chosen based on recommendations from department heads in Journalism or equivalent programs at several universities and colleges. The final team of five reporters and five photojournalists covered all aspects of the 2011 CMA Music Festival, under direction from Bob Doerschuk, Editor of CMA Close Up. Their work was posted daily during the Festival and has been archived at http://www.CMAfest.com.
Following the Festival, CMA Close Up's editorial team reviewed the students' work and selected Farkas as the recipient of the honor. As part of receiving the award, Farkas was invited to assist with backstage photo editing duties during the 2011 CMA Awards.
"Never before have we had a team whose performances as writers and photographers were so exceptional," said Doerschuk. "But Bennett demonstrated a combination of creativity, imagination and sheer drive that stands him out. He even found time to meet and learn directly from several of the professional photographers shooting the Festival. It's no wonder his photo of the crowd at LP Field was the lead photo in CMA's post-Festival press release. He's that good."
Born in Arkansas and raised in Franklin, Tenn., Farkas is majoring in Design Communications with an administrative emphasis at Belmont University in Nashville. Farkas co-founded Golden Spiral Creative, offering video, social media, Web design and other services; the company is already working with Michael Blanton's Be Music and Entertainment artist development agency and the reality show "Troubadour TX," airing nationally in 140 U.S. markets. Farkas is also working to launch WePicture.Us, which will manufacture professional- quality interactive photo booths. His work can be viewed at http://BennettFarkas.com.
"I was not expecting to win this award at all," said Farkas. "I'd seen some of the other photographers' work and I thought they did an equally good job, so I was very surprised and humbled. But this has been a really cool opportunity, and I'm glad I could get so much out of it."