TRAVERSE CITY — Maija Szarapski began taking pictures and riding lessons at about the same time — and fell in love with them both.
The two passions recently combined to win her the “Grand Prize” in the Traverse Area Camera Club’s 15th Annual Student Photography Competition.
Szarapski, 15, shot the photo, “Horse Breathe,” as part of a shutter speed assignment for a photography class at Traverse City West Senior High. The tightly cropped black-and-white image shows the muzzle of her leased horse, Tank, and condensation from the horse’s nose on a chilly winter day.
The photo stood out because of its impact and artistry, technique and composition, said Lynne Lombard, TACC competition chairman.
“A lot of the face is not shown. The story was more in what did show: the horses’ breath in the air, and individual hairs around the nose, showing it was a cold morning,” she said.
The camera club fielded 370 entries from 124 students — nearly twice as many as four years ago when Lombard first chaired the competition.
That’s thanks to increasingly accessible and more sophisticated digital technology and the club’s outreach efforts to inspire new generations of photographers, said Mark Lindsay, TACC member display chairman.
“The mentoring and the ability for them to access information is just awesome,” said Lindsay, noting that contest participants not only vie for cash prizes but also get critique from the club’s unbiased member photographers. “And all the technology they have at their fingertips. Last year’s grand prize winner was taken with an iPhone. You couldn’t tell that it wasn’t with a $5,000 Canon.”
Lombard said digital photography can be a creative form of artistic expression for students who, like herself, “can’t draw a straight line.”
“As adults in the club, it’s fun to see how kids see things,” she said. “Some like computers and manipulating photos through them. And then we have others who just see the world differently.”