PILOT MOUNTAIN — The visual creativity of local artists had full exposure at the awards reception and photography exhibit for the Northwestern Regional Library Photography Contest, which was held Tuesday night at the Charles H. Stone Library in Pilot Mountain.
The contest received photography entries from amateur photographers who resided in each county involved in the Northwestern Regional Library System — Surry, Stokes, Alleghany and Yadkin counties.
An overflowing parking lot and a standing-room-only crowd of more than 75 people were in attendance, the majority of whom had pictures in the contest or were there to support a family member or friend who entered.
The photo contest, which is in its seventh year, has grown with each contest, according to Joan Sherif, regional library supervisor.
“In fact, when we started out all the entries were posted on one of those folding foam core boards, like what you would use in a science fair, so we have really come a long way since then,” said Sherif, gesturing to the numerous photographs displayed all around the room.
A workshop about preparing photographs for competition, presented by Mark Hampton of Hampton House Art and Framing, Inc., was conducted prior to the reception, followed by the photography show and refreshments provided by the library.
While attendees admired the photography on display, they also casted their votes for People’s Choice Award, which was given out at the end of the reception.
Anna Nichols, librarian at Charles H. Stone Library in Pilot Mountain, said many of the photographs entered would be part of a traveling exhibition that would go to each library in the system. Because of the large number of photographs, not every entry will be part of the exhibition, but each library in the system will display entries from their area.
Nichols said the first contest only had around 20 entries, and most photographs were of 3x5 or 4x6 sizes. For the past few years, entries have increased and have taken on a more polished look with larger sizes and required matting.
“Now it has grown to what you see today. We really look forward to this every year. Everyone here made it happen — this is your work, and we are so proud of all of you,” Nichols said to the crowd who were waiting eagerly for the award presentations.
Nichols described the judging process, which took place over two days. “The judges looked at every photograph in the room, but it was a blind judging, so they didn’t know who took what or how many photographs they had in the contest. After a while they came together and discussed their thoughts, then went back to the photographs to look and ponder before they each chose their favorites and compared them.”
Pat Keiger of Stokes County, an award-winning photographer whose work has appeared in Blue Ridge Country and Our State magazines, was one of the judges for the event, and she addressed the audience to describe her process of evaluating the photographs.
Keiger said the judges “tried to be very objective and put our interests aside.” She said she loved the Best in Show photograph, which was taken by Dave Linebeck of Yadkinville, because the image of a factory door in Lowgap was “mysterious, which allowed us to get involved…we didn’t just go by it, we kept coming back to it and thought of stories to go with the picture, perhaps about those who may have worked there in the past.”
In closing, Keiger, whom Nichols described as “an astute photographer who has a keen sense of what she does,” gave 10 tips for better photography, which included pointers such as “get close to the subject,” “find unusual viewpoints,” “look for dramatic lighting,” “include foreground to add depth,” “keep your camera ready at all times,” and “read your manual — don’t let your camera do the work.”
Hobart Jones, former photo journalist for The Winston Salem Journal and award-winning photographer as well as a member of the Mount Airy Photography Club, served as a judge, along with Marty Nichols, graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, filmmaker and award-winning photographer.
Carolyn Choate of Mount Airy received the People’s Choice Award for her photograph “Chief Atop Raven Knob.” Choate said she has entered the contest for the past three years, and she has won an award each year. She also won an honorable mention.
Choate said she decided to enter initially because she loves the library.
“I love books and I love reading; I’ve always been a library member and I try to support what they do.”
She was pleased and “highly surprised” to receive the People’s Choice Award for her photograph and said photography is a hobby to her, but she is “very competitive” and is grateful to have the chance to display her work.
“I carry my camera with me wherever I go. I’m always ready to get that shot…sometimes I even slow down and have to check if someone is behind me because I will see a good picture while I’m driving down the road.”
Recipients received cash prizes for awards, which were funded by the $5 entry fees from each photograph submitted for the contest.
• Youth 5-8, Color: first place to John Kessler of Yadkin County; second place to Carter Alley of Elkin; honorable mention for Carolina Alley of Elkin
• Youth 9-12, Color: first, second place and honorable mention to Christian William of Alleghany County; third place to Ian Dollyhite of Pilot Mountain
• Youth 13-17, Black and White: first place to William Wesley Robinson of Pilot Mountain; second place to Emily Brim of Mount Airy
• Youth 13-17, Color: first place to Whitney Pardue of Elkin; second place to Abby Shepherd of Pilot Mountain; third place and honorable mention to William Wesley Robinson of Pilot Mountain
• Adult, Digitally Altered: first place to Misty Hagwood of Mount Airy; second place to James R. Norris of Alleghany County; third place to Jim Drum
• Adult, Black and White: first place to Danny Redd of Alleghany County; second place to Josie Grogan of Pilot Mountain; third place to Casey Grogan of Pilot Mountain; honorable mentions to Connie Duffey and Rich Miller of Pilot Mountain
• Adult, Color: first place and third place to Dave Lineback of Alleghany County; second place to Raybern Mitchell of Mount Airy
Honorable mentions for the adult color category were awarded to:
• Yadkin County: Angela Reaves, Darrell Ring
• Pilot Mountain: Jonathan Bass of Pilot Mountain, two for Randy Keith, two for Greg Dollyhite, Bob Pantano, two for Richard Hill
• Mount Airy: Rodney McDaniel, Linda Humphrey, Dana Cochran, Carolyn Choate
• Elkin: Judy Conrad, Bonni Hicks, Leonard Reynolds
• Alleghany County: Tina Duffey, two for Dave Lineback, two for Sandra Walker, three for Sheila Carico, James R. Norris, Carol Norris, two for Danny Redd, two for Rich Miller, T.J. Worthington
• Danbury: Rodger L. Sheffer, Jr.
• King: Ann Nichols
Northwestern Regional Library Headquarters honorable mention went to Marie Simonelli.
Best in Show was awarded to Dave Linebeck for “Shirt Factory Door.”
People’s Choice award was presented to Carolyn Choate for “Chief Atop Raven Knob.”
Reach Jessica Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1933.