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Thursday, July 5, 2018 12:11 am

Prizewinning Illinois photography

Results from the SAA Collective’s 2018 Images of Illinois photography contest

“The Last Dance” by Brittani Busby

2018 Images of Illinois Winners

Once again, Illinois Times celebrates the wonders of the prairie state by showcasing winning images from the Springfield Art Association’s SAA Collective annual Images of Illinois photography contest. The seventh annual contest, which highlights images shot on Illinois land and/or water, had a submission period of March 1, 2018, through June 1, 2018, and resulted in 270 photographs captured by 91 photographers from 13 different states.

Several changes were made to 2018’s contest classes and categories. Instead of splitting adult photographers into “amateur” and “professional” classes, organizers opted instead to offer one “adult” class for photographers ages 18 and up and two classes for young photographers: “teens ages 13-17” and “youth ages 12 and under.” Organizers also introduced two new categories (“altered image” and “nature”) to the previous category options of “people” and “places/things.” These additions were made to reflect editing trends in digital photography, as well as to make it easier for photographers to select a category for submission.

As in past years, all submissions were juried by a trio of anonymous professional photographers from various backgrounds. At the beginning of June, the judges were sent digital copies of all 270 submitted photos and were asked to independently create short lists of their favorite photos to be discussed as a group during the jurors’ panel on Thursday, June 7. During the course of a three-hour jury session, judges selected recipients for a $300 cash prize for “Best in Show,” $75 cash prizes for the first-place winners in the four “adult” categories, gift certificates to Springfield Art Association and CherryBerry for the first-place “teen” and “youth” winners, second and third place awards in all classes and categories, plus a handful of honorable mentions.

The “Best in Show” award went to Michael Boehl of Virginia, Illinois, the mastermind behind the image titled “Cemetery, Sunlight and Fog.” Michael’s photo, which also took first in the “adult places” class and category, impressed our trio of jurors so much that they all remarked that they wished they had been the one to capture the image. One juror said, “This image contains so much depth and detail … there are so many places for your eye to look. It’s not that the image is confusing; there’s just so much to see.” Another juror praised the photographer’s skill level, noting the technical challenges posed by the setting, specifically speaking to the strength of the light and dark values in the image. “It’s so hard to get a good exposure in a setting like this, but nothing is compromised; the sky isn’t blown out … this photo is extremely interesting all across the board.”

The “altered” category was introduced this year to accommodate popular digital editing trends in photography, such as the use of Photoshop, filters and blurring. Jurors critiqued snapshots from a variety of settings in this category, and the winning images visually transport viewers into the hustle and bustle of downtown Chicago, to the sun-streaked silos and idyllic corn cribs of central Illinois, and down to the rolling hills and tree-lined vistas found in Makanda, a prime viewing site for the 2017 Great American Eclipse. Michelle Coakes of Taylorville took first place in this division with her photo titled “Golden Silos,” followed by Wendy Baker of Fair Oaks, California, with “Chicago Birds,” and third place went to Jackie Huppenthal of Dyer, Indiana, with “Corn Cribs.” An honorable mention went to Robert Schafer of Springfield for “The Great American Eclipse Sequence.”

The strength of the images submitted to the “youth” and “teen” classes proved once again that top talent can come from teenage artists. Seventeen-year-old Anna Yingst of Geneva took first-place in two of the “teen 13-17” categories. Her image titled “Allure,” shot in Aurora, won first place in the “nature” category and depicts an electrifying green and blue peacock photographed from a side angle. This level of skill impressed our judges, who concluded that the majority of photographers, especially young photographers, would have likely been inclined to capture the image head on. Anna also took first place in the “teen 13-17 people” category with her photograph titled “Feint,” featuring a girl whose face is partially obscured by cloth. The judges were dazzled by the power, strength and intention conveyed through this image, noting how stunningly “the paint streaks and splatters on her face compliment the angle of the purple cloth as well as the tonal range found in the fabrics.” After the contest’s closing date, images submitted to various categories for the “youth ages 12 and under” class were pooled into one general category to reflect lower submission numbers.

Overall, jurors felt that the 2018 Images of Illinois photography contest netted a strong batch of submissions from artists of all ages and skill levels. The jury remarked that it was exciting to see a teen entry (“Feint” by Anna Yingst) be a strong contender for the “Best in Show” award. Additionally, judges appreciated the number of black-and-white submissions to all categories in the teen and adult classes. “It’s so easy in this digital age to go the color route when shooting photography, so it is refreshing to see photographers seeking out the contrasts available via black and white photography,” said one juror.

The public is invited to view the winning photographs on display from July 5 through 28 during an exhibition at the SAA Collective Gallery, located at 420 S. Sixth St. Gallery hours are Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 12 to 7 p.m. Additionally, all contest submissions will be on display during a closing reception at the SAA Collective Gallery on Thursday, July 26, from 5-7 p.m.

The Images of Illinois photography contest, exhibition and closing reception are all made possible with support from CherryBerry Springfield, Micropower Computer Systems and PSC Digital Photo Services. For more information about the SAA Collective and the Images of Illinois photography contest, visit http://springfieldart.org.

Contact Nan Kording at nkording@illinoistimes.com.

Created with flickr slideshow.
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