Windsor Star photographers Dax Melmer and Dan Janisse each took home top awards from the Ontario Newspaper Awards gala in Toronto on Saturday.
In addition, Melmer was named the Photojournalist of the Year for his body of work in 2018.
Janisse took first prize in the Sports Photography category for his photo of Lajeunesse high school soccer player Holly Lucier taking a kick to the face during a soccer final in May.
Judges said that Janisse “captures the perfect split second in time when you can see the action, the feeling — and imagine the fallout.”
The Photojournalist of the Year is judged based on all the entries made to various categories, so when Melmer said when his name was called it was a complete surprise. “My jaw dropped and I just couldn’t believe it,” he said. “It was just incredible, I feel very honoured.”
Melmer also won the Feature Photography Award for his image capturing a young girl’s horrible facial injuries after a vicious dog attack. Six-year-old Karma Jariett nearly lost an eye and required surgery, including 125 stitches, after being mauled by a dog during a weekend sleepover in early January 2018. The dog was later euthanized.
Judges described the photo as “haunting and sad” and wrote: “This alarming photograph manages to do two things simultaneously — it takes you back and it forces you to look forward.”
Dax Melmer /
Established in 1953, the Ontario Newspaper Awards celebrates excellence in journalism among almost all of the daily newspapers in Ontario outside of Toronto, recognizing the best journalism produced by reporters, photographers, videographers, graphic artists and editors.
Melmer has been with the Star for eight years. Janisse has been with the Star for 19 years. He was nominated for three awards, for feature photography, sports photography and video production. Another veteran photographer, Nick Brancaccio was nominated in sports photography and spot news photography. This was Melmer’s first Photojournalist of the Year award.
“Some days it’s a grind and some days you finish the day feeling so overwhelmingly proud of what you may have captured,” Melmer said. “And you did your part to kind of illuminate something or explain something, or to just joyfully reveal a good photo to someone.”