Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Blue ribbon!

Bring, bring.

“Erin, it’s Mom. Did you remember the photography awards ceremony is tonight?”
“Oh, I did know that, but I’d forgotten.”
“Well, I think you won an award.”
“I don’t know, Mom. I know that postcard they sent had an “Award” sticker, but that might just be because they chose two of my pictures for display.”
“I don’t think so, Erin.”

Mom explained that a coworker’s sister got a card saying her pictures were going on display, but hers didn’t have the sticker. With that revelation, we were in! After Mom and Dad got home from work, we hit the road for the Iowa State Fairgrounds. It was a slightly cranky affair, as Dad was running a bit behind.

We made it to the cultural center and checked in just as the ceremony was starting. Mom and Dad found seats on the hill out in the courtyard. I stayed closer to the podium with my awards book in hand. As I browed through the book, I was confused. I didn’t see any of my pictures in any of the categories I entered. Then I finally found the reason. You see, one of my photos had been moved to a new class. Was this a secret? Oh, well. I gave my parents a thumbs-up.

They were confused, and thought I had gotten an honorable mention, so they left to find it in the photography salon display. When I looked up, they were gone! I had to call them on their cell phone.

“Where are you? I’m next!”
“What!?! We’ll be right there.”

As I hung up, I heard the Photography Superintendent say, “I hope Erin Kiley is here…and I hope she doesn’t mind that I moved her picture to a new class.”
“I don’t mind!” The whole crowd laughed.
“First place in Sports Photography, Erin Kiley.” Mom and Dad got there just in time to see me shake his hand and receive my certificate and premium. Then we went to see my picture hanging on the wall next to a shiny blue ribbon.

More than 3,600 pictures were submitted this year. Only 800 were chosen for display (including two of mine-- the tiger picture above left and my winning picture at left) and there were only about two dozen class winners. I am very proud.

In the course of my photography project, I had 6 enlarged prints made, bought four mounting boards, six mats, spent $20 on entry fees, and $24 on gas (one trip to get pictures from the lab, another to deliver the pictures to the fairgrounds). My $100 award premium was enough to break even, YAY!

Later I was chatting with the Superintendant of Photography. He told me he’d been judging when he saw my picture in the People class. He instantly knew it belonged in the Sports section, and the judges named it the winner of that class. He asked why I didn’t put it there in the first place. I replied that most Sports pictures were of human bodies doing amazing things. For example the second and third place pictures were of a wrestler, triumphant as his opponent clung to his leg; and a surfer, his body twisting as he rode a crystal-blue wave. He admitted some people wouldn’t get his choice, but that the contest was to inspire people to look at things in a new way, from a different point of view. “We want photography, not snapshots. Your picture is the perfect example of that.” Wow. What an honor.

“Yeah,” his assistant replied, “But next year we’ll have 50 pictures looking straight down from the top row of the stadium.” Hee. Well, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!
“So are you going to go into photojournalism now?” Dad asked.
“No,” I replied, “but I might enter more contests.”

I love taking pictures, but I think doing it for a living would be too stressful. If you like anything I post so much you think it has potential for next year, let me know. To top it all off, Mom and Dad took me for ice cream at this great ice cream parlor in Grimes. Their Cherry Amaretto flavor is to die for. For the first time in years, I got to have my parents with me for an important ceremony, and it was nice to have them support me like that.

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