Column: Entering the D.C. portrait contest

Column: Entering the D.C. portrait contest

While in Washington D.C. for the National College Media Conference I was asked by our editor-in-chief to compete in the photography contest that’s held every year where photographers from different schools take their best image and send it in to be judged.

The rules for the contest were simple, go out and explore the district of Columbia and get a portrait picture of someone who lives in D.C. or works there and ask them their story.

While at the Museum of American Art, on the top floor, our group rounded a corner to see a gentleman kneeling on a raised platform and moving what looked like rice from a bucket to a scale to be weighed. I don’t know what drew me closer, but at that moment I decided that was the picture and story I wanted to tell for the contest.

The artist’s name was Sheldon Scott, who was performing a piece called “Portrait, number 1” where for four days and nights, from sun up to sunset, he would take a piece of grain in his hands, husk out the rice and put it on a scale to be weighed. He did this to show how his great grandfather, and other slaves before the civil war, would spend days in the fields performing the same action.

I decided that this picture would be the only one I would send in for the contest, as it told a story and I wouldn’t find anything else that could compete with it while visiting D.C.

I listened to what the advisors had to say about my picture after I showed them and told this man’s story, and thanked them for their thoughts and opinions. 

During that session, we all voted on a class favorite and in the beginning my picture was slow to impress the rest of the class. I stood up during one of the sessions and explained why my choice should continue in the contest. It went as far as the semi-finals before it lost to the last two pictures, which continued on to the finals.

The contest started with 15 photographers who went out and shot their best picture, and even if I didn’t make it as far as I did, I was proud of how far I had gotten in my photography since I picked it up as a hobby in Hawaii.

The picture will be put into a portfolio to be used to show my work, and also with the advice of my editor and some of our friends I am planning on submitting it to the magazine “Broken Ink.”

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