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Bemidji native wins photo award

A Bemidji native has won first prize in a division of the World Press Awards.

Ariana Lindquist, a 1990 graduate of Bemidji High School, topped the arts and entertainment division of the World Press Awards.

Her photo, taken in Shanghai, China, captures a girl dressed in an anime costume. The wining photo may be viewed online at

Lindquist is a freelance photographer who lives and works in Shanghai with her husband, Joshua Speckman, a 1989 graduate of BHS.

The photograph, which was first published on the World Press Photo Web site, is part of a personal project Lindquist was working on regarding cosplay in Shanghai.

Mainland Chinese still bear resentment toward the Japanese occupation of China and mass killings during World War II, she explained. While most Chinese do not accept Japanese culture, the cosplayers actively embrace Japanese pop culture.

"I found that an interesting commentary on how youth culture is changing in China," Lindquist wrote in an e-mail to the Pioneer. "The fact that they have enough money to create these elaborate costumes is another indication of growing affluence and search for self-identity in the cities of the east."

After graduating from high school, Lindquist obtained a B.A., graduating with honors with a degree in anthropology, from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.

"I thought that an anthropology degree would not be useful for much, but in fact my training in anthropology has given me valuable insight on culture and informs how I work as photographer, investigating the relationship between individual lives and the societies in which they live," Lindquist wrote. "While I was at the U of M I also studied art photography and worked as a photographer at the student newspaper, the Minnesota Daily, which was fabulous fun and set me on the road that I still travel today."

At the time, she did not consider a career in photography in her future, she said.

But, since her friends at the Daily were all applying for newspaper internships, she did as well. She sent out 20 portfolios and was hired at the Sandusky Register in Sandusky, Ohio.

She then held photography jobs with the Minnesota Senate, Indianapolis Star and News and Evansville Press before she asked herself whether she wanted to pursue newspaper photography as a career.

"It was then that I could see my future laid out before me, first put time in at small newspapers, then mid-sized newspapers, then eventually a large market newspaper, always jockeying with photographers more favored and with more seniority than me for the best assignments," she wrote. "It was then that I decided this path was not for me."

Lindquist set out a plan for herself: She would move to Taiwan, learn Chinese, return to the U.S. and get a graduate degree in photojournalism and then move back to mainland China to be a documentary/freelance editorial photographer.

She followed through completely. First, she spent two years learning Chinese, lived in Taiwan for three years and then completed two years of graduate school at the Ohio University School of Visual Communications.

She then received a Fulbright grant to go to China.

When that expired, Lindquist began her freelance career; her first assignment was photographing an underground church in China for the New York Times.

She does not work for any one publication but most often contributes to Time magazine and the New York Times. She also has worked with the Financial Times of London, Saveur, BusinessWeek, and Popular Science Magazine.