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Thursday, July 6, 2017 12:12 am

Images of Illinois

Results from the SAA Collective’s sixth annual photography contest

“Melons” by Elizabeth Bailey, honorable mention, Professional – People


The sixth annual Images of Illinois photography contest saw numerous changes. The contest showcases the splendor of Illinois through professional, amateur and youth photography. It is spearheaded by the SAA Collective and sponsored by Illinois Times, Cherry Berry, PSC Digital and MicroPower Computer Systems.

As in the past five years, photos eligible for submission must have been taken on Illinois land or waters; however, 2017’s submission period was moved from winter to spring, a strategic move in hopes that the warmer weather would encourage a wider number of and variety in submissions. Submission fees were lowered, with the goal of making the contest more accessible to amateur and youth photographers. Additionally, a change was made to the manner in which the corresponding gallery show will be displayed, as all artists who submitted photos for consideration will see their work featured as part of a display of 4x6 prints alongside the contest winners, during the Images of Illinois gallery exhibition at the SAA Collective gallery in the Hoogland Center for the Arts, July 6 through 29.

For the sixth year in a row, photography submissions were accepted in four classes (Professional, Amateur, Youth 13-17 and Youth under 12) and two categories (“People” and “Places/Things”). Keeping with tradition, the number of submissions has increased each year. The 2017 Images of Illinois photography contest saw 307 total submissions, up 30 from last year and up 92 from 2015.

307 entries received by
106 photographers from
16 states

All submissions were juried by a panel of three Illinois-based judges, whose photography experience ranges from photography editor to fine art and portrait photography. The varied backgrounds and life experiences of the jury helped bring to light multiple points of view for each class and category, and sparked lively discussions full of praise, criticism and feedback for participating artists.

This year’s “Best in Show” award features a $300 cash prize and was awarded to Woody Wood, of Athens, Ohio. Woody’s photo, titled “Chicago Bridge at Sunset,” was submitted to the Amateur class within the “Places/Things” category. Most notably, the judges were awed by the ways in which the light source beams through the openings of the bridge, and how well the light compliments the rough textures in the bridge and the movement in the pedestrian’s stride; an idyllic capture of a quiet moment in a bustling metropolis.

The classes and categories garnering the largest number of submissions were Professional “Places/Things” and Amateur “Places/Things,” with both class and category combinations receiving at least 100 submissions. “Grain Bin in the Field,” by Melinda Garner of Mechanicsburg, took first place in the Professional category. Woody Wood, our “Best of Show” winner, also took first place in the Amateur “Places/Things” category with his submission “Chicago Corn Cobs,” an urbanized take on a common country crop, featuring several iconic Chicago skyscrapers (the towers of Marina City plus AMA Plaza) as the “corn cobs.”

Winning photographs
from Images of Illinois 2017

Best in Show

1 – “Chicago Bridge at Sunset”        by Woody Wood

Professional – People
1 – “Awaiting Her Carriage”        by Raymond Jude Kaider
2 – “Summer Day” by David Brodsky
3 – “Kristy and the Old Chair” by Brian Campbell
HM – “Melons” by Elizabeth Bailey

Professional – Places/Things
1 – “Grain Bin in the Field” by Melinda Garner
2 – “Big John” by Jim Sinsheimer
3 – “Funk’s Grove Church” by Stephen Wilson
HM – “Star Trails” by Robert Schafer
HM – “Autumn Light” by Scott Sternberg

Amateur – People
1 – “A Girl in a Tent” by Jennifer Bietsch
2 – “The Last Dance” by Sharon Walker
3 – “Strange Mass” by Leah Golembeski
HM – “Retreat” by Roxie Trussell

Amateur – Places/Things
1 – “Chicago Corn Cobs” by Woody Wood
2 – “Cycle of Circle” by Hannah Mae Bernat
3 – “Sunset Reflecting” by Roxie Trussell
HM – “Hummer on Fireflag” by Joan Eckhardt

Youth 13-17 – People
1 – “Lillian Rose” by Adrianna Thiele
2 – “Joshua John” by Gus Beard
3 – “Thomas Francis” by Gus Beard

Youth 13-17 – Places/Things
1 – “The Burning” by Zach Cook
2 – “Winter Meeting Spring” by Blair Perkins
3 – “Clouds at Sunset” by Victoria Ranson
HM – “Concentrate” by Isabel Brodt
HM – “Hosta I” by Blair Perkins
HM – “Pathway of Light” by Dayton Emery

Youth Under 13 – Places/Things
1 – “Food Jumble” by Dylan McWhirter
2 – “Sky View” by William Pittman
3 – “A Likeness of Skye” by Skye Stark

The winning photograph in the Amateur “People” category was awarded to Jennifer Bietsch of Heyworth for “A Girl in a Tent.” Judges were drawn to the balance of line work and light present in Jennifer’s piece, commenting that “the photographer was smart to take note of and record such a quiet and peaceful moment.” First place in the Professional “People” category went to Raymond Jude Kaider, of Antioch, for “Awaiting Her Carriage.” One juror remarked at how such a simple image almost entirely devoid of facial expression and eye contact could convey so much, and marveled at the line work and shapes formed by the placement of the girl’s hat.

The winning photograph in the Youth 13-17 “Places/Things” category was submitted by 13-year-old Adrianna Thiele. The photo, titled “Lillian Rose,” indicates an advanced understanding of photography skills that can sometimes be difficult for youth to grasp, such as backlighting. Although the young girl is the focal point of the photograph, some judges were wowed by the trees and branches in the background, which give the photo a “lacy” effect, and offer textural contrast to the detail in the subject’s hair.

Best in Show – “Chicago Bridge at Sunset” by Woody Wood


The winner of the Youth under 12 “Places/Things” category was 5-year-old Dylan McWhirter. Dylan’s submission, titled “Food Jumble” featured two juxtapositions that the judges found very clever for a youngster: the balance of the colors in the food displayed in the cart versus on the shelves, and the contrast between health food and junk food.

To view the winners exhibition and all 307 of this year’s submissions, visit the Images of Illinois photography exhibition in the SAA Collective gallery in the Hoogland Center for the Arts, July 6-29. Additionally, please join us in congratulating the contest winners during a gallery event Thursday, July 6, 5:30 through 7 p.m., at the SAA Collective gallery. The free event is open to the public, and will feature an awards ceremony at 6 p.m., along with light refreshments and live music by Jeff C. Williams. To view a full gallery of the winning photographs online, visit illinoistimes.com.

Contact Nan Kording at nkording@illinoistimes.com.

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