The Electrical Worker online
April 2023

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From the ground to the sky, from wide shots to delicate close-ups, nothing captures the heart and soul of our great union better than the annual Photo Contest.

Members proved that again in 2023 with a stunning array of images that were difficult to pare down to finalists for online voting. In February, thousands of brothers and sisters cast ballots — one vote per person — for first, second and third place, with honorable mentions awarded in every IBEW branch that had entries.

The top prize of $1,000 went to journeyman lineman Phil Weller of Seattle-based Local 77, who couldn't resist the symmetry of his crewmates working on transmission lines in rural Washington state — one of those moments in an otherwise routine day, he said, that remind him of the joys and wonders of being a lineman.

Ryan Caulfield of Ventura, Calif., Local 952 won second place and $750 for a mesmerizing scene he captured at daybreak as he and an IBEW brother were finishing a night shift repairing streetlights and cameras. Third place, with a $500 prize, went to journeyman lineman Paul Salgado of Diamond Bar, Calif., Local 47 for his photo of an apprentice up a pole amid a patch of forest after a storm.

The $200 honorable mentions pull the lens further back to show the diversity of IBEW members' work. They include a peek inside a New York broadcasting studio, a walk across a vast solar field in Oregon, a California tree trimmer on a colorful winter morning, a rising sun burning off fog above pristine railroad tracks in Manitoba and the intricate work of a crime lab technician in Los Angeles.

International President Kenneth W. Cooper said he's awed by the contest entries, whether or not they were winners. "These photos tell you so much about the IBEW — not just what we do and how we do it but the passion, care and professionalism we bring to our jobs," he said.

He hopes the featured photos inspire members to enter the next contest later this year. "I can't wait to see the 2024 submissions," Cooper said. "While safety and job rules are first and foremost at all times, these days we're all walking around with cameras in our pockets. When and where you're able, it's never been easier to give the rest of us a glimpse of what you do — and you might even win a prize."



"These photos tell you so much about the IBEW —
not just what we do and how we do it but the passion, care and professionalism we bring to our jobs."

– International President Kenneth W. Cooper

2023 Photo Contest 1st Place

First Place

Looking up at his symmetrical IBEW brothers on an X-bracing 50 feet in the air in spring 2023, journeyman lineman Phil Weller knew he had to capture the moment.

He and his crewmates, all members of Seattle Local 77 working for the Chelan County Public Utility District, were in the midst of routine maintenance on transmission lines in north-central Washington.

What Weller saw that morning reminded him that even ordinary days can be extraordinary when you're a lineman, inspiring him to pull out his iPhone 14.

"It's so awesome to be up there," he said. "But when you do this every day, sometimes you forget how cool it is. You get views like that on a daily basis, and you're working with a bunch of fun, hard-working guys. You can't beat it."

The fun, hard-working guys he photographed that day are Jessie Nick and Joel McIntosh, Local 77 members for 24 years and 14 years, respectively.

Weller, a Washington native who is married with two children, joined the union 17 years ago. He was attending Boise State University to study radiology when he happened to drive past the North-west Lineman College's Idaho campus. Intrigued, he did some research and decided he'd prefer working in the great outdoors.

"I feel really fortunate," he said. "It is hard work, but it's just so much fun. And it's one of those jobs that's not going anywhere."


Phil Weller
Seattle Local 77

Photo Contest 2nd Place

Second Place

Ryan Caulfield had no plans to enter the IBEW Photo Contest when he shot this picture of working partner and fellow Local 952 member David Soo Hoo in a bucket as the sun rose over a Ventura intersection. He took it for Soo Hoo's wife, who wanted photos of her husband on the job.

But Soo Hoo loved the picture and insisted they enter it. It paid off with a second-place finish and a check for $750. Not surprisingly, Caulfield plans to share the winnings with Soo Hoo, his friend and IBEW brother.

"I was just thinking that maybe this will give her an idea what we're doing while we're at work and she's home in bed," said Caulfield, who has been a Local 952 member for 25 years and is a foreman for Taft Electric, a major signatory contractor.

He and Soo Hoo specialize in repairing and replacing streetlights and street cameras. Most of their work is at night, when it is less disruptive to traffic and people like Soo Hoo's wife are asleep.

Caulfield used an iPhone that he keeps in his safety vest. The intersection is just off a busy freeway, and traffic can be heavy, even early in the day.


Ryan Caulfield
Ventura, Calif., Local 952

Photo Contest 3rd Place

Third Place

In March 2023, Diamond Bar, Calif., Local 47 journeyman lineman Paul Salgado was in the Sacramento area with several of his fellow members who were tasked with changing out equipment and restoring power to nearby customers following a storm.

Something about a particular Local 47 apprentice at work caught Salgado's attention: the full-body personal protective equipment, perhaps, with the bright yellow standing out against the relative darkness of the trees in the background.

Salgado pulled out his Sony A6400 and captured the moment that ultimately netted him third-place honors and a $500 prize in the 2023 IBEW Photo Contest.

After finishing a four-year commitment to the U.S. Navy in 2006, Salgado worked a few jobs before meeting up with a journeyman lineman who recommended electrical work.

"From there, I didn't look back. Being a part of the trade was what I knew I wanted," said Salgado, who was initiated into the IBEW in 2013.

He developed his familiarity with a camera when he had to take time off for an injury. It soon turned into a professional opportunity.

"About two years ago, I moved into media and branding" for IBEW signatory contractor Sturgeon Electric California, he said, serving as a field media adviser and podcast producer. Soon afterward, he placed third in the 2021 IBEW Photo Contest.

In his spare time, Salgado volunteers with veteran organizations to help servicemembers who are transitioning into the civilian workforce, with a special consideration for electrical work and IBEW membership.


Paul Salgado
Diamond Bar, Calif., Local 47

Honorable Mentions ($200 each)





Gerard D'Elia
New York Local 1212

Inside Construction



Kendel Castner
Kennewick, Wash., Local 112

Outside Construction



Kyle Avery
Hartford, Conn., Local 42




Jennifer Emery
Los Angeles Local 11




Jorgen Kaspick
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Local 2034




Greg Briggs
Cranston, R.I., Local 2323



Robert Burroughs
Vacaville, Calif., Local 1245

Honorable mention was not awarded in the Manufacturing Branch because of a lack of qualifying entries.

Rules for entering the 2024 contest will be advertised in upcoming issues of The Electrical Worker, as well as on our website and social media.