Entries ready for judging at the Appalachian Fair (Elizabeth Saulsbury/Johnson City Press)
Portraits, action shots, still-life photos and more adorned tables and boxes in the Appalachian Fair’s Farm and Home Building last Monday morning, prepared for the judging that would take place later that day.
The fair’s annual photography contest welcomed entries from across the Tri-Cities, giving area amateur photographers the chance to display their work and to have the chance to win first, second or third place in each category.
“All of the judges are long-standing photographers, so they’re looking for the best-quality photo,” said Lisa Bradley, Farm and Home director. “They’re not so much looking for something striking or eye-catching, but a good-quality shot.”
The competition had 29 categories that fell into either black-and-white or color divisions. Bradley said that 2014’s contest saw more than 1,000 entries, and added that the Appalachian Fair’s photography contest has long been a popular one.
“It’ll run in spurts, and sometimes it’ll spike, but the photography contest has pretty much always had a good reception,” Bradley said.
This marks the first year that the fair has offered a children’s photography contest. Children ages 16 and younger entered their photographs in one of two categories: black-and-white and color. Bradley said that the children’s competition did not receive much interest this year, but is hopeful that it will receive more entries in its second year.
The contestants in both the adult and children’s competitions were required to be amateur photographers.
“You have to make 50 percent or more of your income to be considered a professional,” Bradley said.
Certain specifications were placed on the entries as well. Any entries that violated the size, matting and format requirements for the competition were disqualified.
Contest worker Vendetta Hite said that contestants found a wide variety of scenes and objects to photograph. As someone who has worked at the contest for no less than 12 years, Hite has seen many different types of entries.
“People come up with different things to do year after year,” Hite said. “I like the landscapes and I also like the pictures of kids.”
Bradley said that the subjects are quite varied in the landscape category. She said that the pictures were not limited to scenes from the area, but also from all over the world.
“We do get local mountain stuff, but then we’ll also run into photographs of London or Paris or Australia,” Bradley said. “We don’t get a whole lot of what you’d consider ‘Appalachia.’”
Bradley said that with increasing popularity of professional cameras, as well as the rise of smartphones and social media, people don’t realize what being a photographer truly means.
“Suddenly everybody thinks they’re a photographer,” said Bradley. “People buy these 8-, 10- or 12-megapixel phones or a $1,500 camera and everybody thinks they’re a professional. But there’s still an art to it, and not everyone can do it.”
“A good camera aids, yes, but not like a photographer’s natural talent at finding subjects,” Hite said. “I think it takes a special person to be a photographer.”
The Appalachian Fair will run Aug. 18-23. Stop by the Farm and Home Building to see the photography exhibit and find out who will take home the blue ribbons.