By Michael McCarrick
Online Reporter Project
Scranton Times-Tribune photographer Butch Comegys shoots by a simple mantra: “You’re only as good as your last picture.”
Lately, his last pictures have been truly outstanding — so much so that the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors honored him Friday night with its prestigious Paul Vathis Memorial Award for excellence in photography.
“It’s very humbling, I’m still trying to frame it in my head. It just hasn’t sunk in yet,” Comegys said minutes after his name was announced.
Shocked, the usually boisterous Comegys quietly looked around the room and shrugged before getting up to accept the prize. His father, longtime Wilmington News Journal photographer Fred Comegys, was by his side. Fred retired in 2012 after 53 years with the newspaper. Butch has been shooting in Scranton for 18 years.
“He’s the real photographer,” the younger Comegys said.
The award, named for the late Paul Vathis, is presented annually to the top photojournalist in Pennsylvania. Vathis, an AP photographer for 56 years, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1962 for a photo of President John F. Kennedy and former President Dwight Eisenhower at Camp David the Bay of Pigs invasion.
Comegys’ award-winning portfolio included a powerful image of a warehouse fire last August in Scranton.
Did he think his photo might be a prize winner when he shot it?
“I wasn’t thinking that at all,” Comegys said. “As a photographer, you don’t do this to win awards. You do it because you love the job.”
Butch Comegys’ photograph of a Scranton firefighter battling a massive structure fire at the Sandone Tire warehouse building was among the images in a portfolio that won him the PAPME’s Paul Vathis Memorial Award on Friday. (Butch Comegys / Scranton Times-Tribune)