By Katy Burley 
BELLEVILLE – Hannah Yoon remembers the first time she ever held a camera. She was six years old and all she remembers is running around with her parents’ point-and-shoot.
Now, the 27-year-old is completing her second and final year in the photojournalism program  at Loyalist College and has just won the Tom Hanson Award for photography. It comes with a six-week paid internship at the Canadian Press head office in Toronto.
The Tom Hanson Award  was launched in 2009 in memory of the award-winning sports and news photographer.
“We wanted to do something in his honour and to continue on his name,” said Graeme Roy, director of news photography at the Canadian Press  in Toronto.
After Hanson died suddenly in 2009, Roy said, he talked with the Hanson family and they decided that something like the award would be a fitting way to carry on his legacy.
The award is open to photojournalists who are in the early stages of their career. Yoon is the first student ever to win.
Her portfolio was the strongest overall, said Roy, chair of the selection committee for the award. There was one thing that really made a big difference in her submission, he added.
“She had a really good perspective on things and there were little hidden gems in her photos that really showed that she was seeing elements within the photo that a lot of people don’t see.”
Yoon says she has always liked telling stories through visuals.
“I found that I really liked taking pictures of what I saw instead of doing commercial stuff like posing people,” she said.
Yoon decided to come to Loyalist because it was the closest program to her hometown of Waterloo. Loyalist’s photojournalism program is the most well-known in Canada, she said, and she heard that she could meet good connections in the industry through it.
“I’m glad I came because I learned really good technical skills and also made a lot of really good friends and learned a lot about the industry.”
Yoon said she wasn’t planning on entering the award competition. But her boyfriend convinced her to apply just to get her work noticed by professionals, even if she didn’t win.
Roy also said he thinks the award and the Canadian Press internship that comes with it are a good way to get noticed.
“There’s no better exposure than having your pictures move on our wire, because they’re seen by so many people,” he said. “Not only across Canada, but worldwide.”
Frank O’Connor, the coordinator of the photojournalism program at Loyalist, said Yoon started at the college with the right attitude.
“I’m not at all surprised that she’s been recognized for this award,” he said.
Yoon is an ideal student, O’Connor said. She soaked everything in, was a quiet leader, volunteered for everything, and was the class’s representative on the program’s advisory board, he said.
“If you want something done, and done well, and done with thought and completeness, you give it to Hannah Yoon,” he said.
“She’s a quiet storm of success.”
Yoon found out she’d won while she was off school for Study Week. She realized she had a missed call and checked her voicemail, to find out it was from Roy. She called back thinking he would only thank her for her application and tell her to apply again next year, but instead he told her she had won. She was shocked, she said, but very grateful for the opportunity to intern for the Canadian Press.
“I’m really excited to get a chance to work with CP and work along with the different photographers there.”
Asked what her dream job would be, Yoon told QNet News that she wants to keep telling stories through visuals. She would love to start some kind of company – a magazine, perhaps – that tells people stories. She wants to work with people to help them tell their story, she said.
“So many stories go untold,” she added.
Working for the Canadian Press is going to help her pay attention to detail in a big-city setting like Toronto, and to learn to work well under pressure, Yoon said.
“It’s a really great and strong stepping stone. Working with really excellent people is going to push me to work really well too. Whatever I learn now, especially with the internship, is going to help with what’s to come in the future.”
O’Connor has no doubt Yoon will succeed.
“She’d be somebody that I think we’re going to hear lots from in the future,” he said.