Photographers’ Journey is a tradition that has been taking place at Image City Photography Gallery for the past several years. The Partners of Image City decided years ago to host one major competition, formerly called Portfolio Showcase, which is judged by distinguished external judges. Major prizes, provided by both local sponsors, members of the Neighborhood of the Arts and nationally from Adobe, are awarded to the winners. Judges are rotated every two years to bring fresh eyes to the judging process. Over the last three years the former Portfolio Showcase (when an entry was a set of eight photographs that held together as a portfolio) was replaced by the current Photographers’ Journey contest. Now entries are a group of individual photographs rather than a portfolio.
According to Steve Levinson, the coordinator of Photographers’ Journey, “Our objective is to showcase many of the best photographers in the area and select the ‘best of the best’ images provided.”
In addition to the exhibit prizes, a catalog of the finalists is available both as a prize for the finalists as well as being available for sale to the general public.
Steve says “Change is good, and the new format has increased the interest among both photographers and folks who enjoy seeing and purchasing beautiful photography displayed at Image City since we adopted the new format.”
After more than 420 photographs were submitted, 64 images were juried into the show and then each photo was placed into one of the following categories: Digital/Conceptual/Abstract, Travel/Places, Landscape/Seascape, Architectural/Cityscape, Documentary/Journalism/Street, Portrait/Event/Sports, Botanical/Still Life, and Wildlife. Independent judges Daniel Hughes and Eric T. Kunsman selected a winner for each of the eight categories and from that set of photographs, they selected a grand prize winner and two runners-up.
This year the grand prize winner was created by Debbie Nawoczenski. Her image entitled Sunset at Brewster Flats, is also the winner of the Digital, Conceptual, Abstract Category. Debbie’s image was taken immediately after the sunset in late September in Brewster Flats, Cape Cod. Debbie says, “The sky color was stunning, and I was attracted to the multiple layers of color and contrast. I didn’t know if intentional camera movement would capture the emotion of that late evening, but I was happy with the result.” Two photographers’ work provided Debbie with inspiration for this photograph: Mark Bowie from Adirondack Photography Institute and Steven Koppel, a resident Cape Cod photographer. Debbie says, “Steven has done some exquisite imagery of Brewster and Orleans shorelines, and I am very attracted to his photographic style.” Having lost her best friend and husband, Ernie, about two months before this photo was taken, Debbie says that Ernie also shared a love of photography, and she suspects he was there that evening reminding her to hang out a bit longer to capture the beautiful post-sunset show.
Michael Putorti’s Pairs, is one of the Runner-Up winners as well as the winner of the Botanical/Still Life category. Twenty-five years ago when Michael created this photo, his intention was to create an image that was reflective of a pun. He says that in doing so, his idea “grew organically!” Michael used film to make this contact print. If you look closely along the edges, you can see some of the 4 x 5 negative. Michael says he worked very hard to produce an image that transcended the joke. He wanted to make sure the image was balanced, had a simple background and incorporated dramatic lighting. This is typical of Michael’s photos, which are influenced by his background; he has a BA in Technical Theater with an emphasis on Stage Lighting.
The other Runner-Up Winner is Tom Harvey’s photograph, Cheder Boy, which is also the winner of the Travel/Places category. The photo is of a school-aged Hasidic boy walking down the street in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem, Israel. Tom was on a tour bus heading to Yad Vashem, the Israel Holocaust Memorial, when he saw the young boy. Tom took the photo through the bus window. Tom was inspired by the documentary photography of Roman Vishniac, a photojournalist who photographed Jewish life in central and eastern Europe during the 1930’s. Like Roman, Tom enjoys telling stories with his camera. He says that he hopes that when visitors view Cheder Boy, “they will think about the different people in our world, who have values different from the contemporary materialistic society.”
Another photographer, Nicholas Jospe, also likes to produce images that tell stories or imply enough of a story starter as to draw in the observer. Stair Space-Musee National des Beaux Arts du Quebec, taken by Nicholas, is the award winner in the category of Architecture/Cityscapes. The photograph is of a generous and open space that encloses the staircases that lead to the upper floors of an art museum. The staircase wraps around, like a model of a DNA molecule, as it defines open space above, inside and below. Nicholas, who likes places that imply serenity, solitude, peace, scale and space says “The challenge upon first seeing and sensing this space was how to place myself to ‘see’ the image in a camera’s frame so as to underscore some of what I felt without closing off the shapes and planes.” When visitors view this image, Nicholas hopes that they are reminded of the beauty and elegance of black and white photography. He says that the photo is rendered in black and white, “in order to leave the focus on forms and shapes, and let the viewers add colors as they see fit, but with the implication that color is not needed.”
Walk into the Light, by Gabriel M. Flores, was the winning photograph in the Documentary/Journalism/Street category. The photo was taken on East Avenue and Gibbs Street in downtown Rochester during the middle of the COVID Pandemic. Due to the Pandemic there were not many people out. Gabriel saw the light coming between the buildings and someone happened to be walking by. Gabriel was hoping to capture someone walking, literally, into the light. Because the COVID pandemic was a very challenging and tragic time for people everywhere, metaphorically, Gabriel’s image showcases a glimmer and reflection of hope during darkness. Gabriel was born and raised in Brooklyn and has lived in Florida, New Jersey and now the Rochester area. He says “Moving around so much has helped me to appreciate the uniqueness of each new place I’ve been, and I try to capture that point of view in my photographs.” He hopes that his photo helps show that there are many places we pass by every day that may go unnoticed, but it is worth taking a moment to slow down, observe and absorb your surroundings.
Another winning photo that embraces its surroundings is Sunset Surfer, by Garrett Fischer. Garrett’s photo won the Best in Category Award in the Portrait/Event/Sports category. While on vacation, Garrett took this photo from the beach near Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. There were several local surfers out enjoying a few last waves of the day. Garrett had been watching this particular surfer for quite awhile and was fortunate to catch him in beautiful light taking his last ride of the day. Garrett’s interest in photography began when photographing his son play lacrosse and football. He has always enjoyed the challenge of shooting something unique, and learning some new skills in the process. Garrett says, “Surfing was definitely something new and different since we don’t have too much of that in Western New York. So with the challenge of a new sport and fading light, it was game on for me!” Garrett says that he hopes that visitors who spend time viewing his image will see that “nature is both beautiful and powerful and embrace it.”
Alicia Wittink photographed Happy Hour, the winning photo in the Wildlife category. This photo was taken on safari in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. Alicia says they were there many nights and were astounded and humbled by the enormous number of elephants. There was a nearby watering hole, where they could sit and watch as parades of elephants came en masse to get a drink. On the day this photo was taken, Alicia says “we were entertained for hours while groups of elephants continually appeared.” Alicia and her group were extremely quiet while they observed in awe as the elephants drank. She says, “The young ones were often quite playful, frequently blowing bubbles…reminding us of the time when our kids played in the bath for hours.” Alicia hopes that when viewers see her photo, “they get a small window into the gorgeous simplicity of these spectacular animals.”
The winning photo in the Landscape/Seascape category, The Three Kings, was taken by Anthony Ryan.
Steve Levinson says, “This event has always been one of the most popular shows we run each year, exhibiting the skills of the entrants.” Stop by Image City Photography Gallery through September 3rd to see all of these works as well as the images created by all 56 photographers. If you have a comment or question, please type it in the comment section below.