It’s a competition with focus – literally.
Now in its ninth year, the Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition offers a glimpse of the Blue Ridge as seen through the eyes – and lenses – of area photographers.
Nearly 1,200 submissions were judged by an expert panel, which whittles down the number to a manageable, but still daunting, 49 finalists.
The judges must choose the best of the best in multiple categories, including Best in Show, Blue Ridge Parkway, Culture, Adventure, Flora and Fauna, Landscape and Our Ecological Footprint.
However, they can’t do it all.
Enter the coveted People’s Choice Award, in which members of the public are tasked with selecting their overall favorite. For this award, the categories aren’t part of the picture.
“There’s only one People’s Choice Award,” said Rich Campbell, director of Appalachian State University Outdoor Programs, the competition’s facilitator. “They just choose whichever is their favorite out of all the categories.”
The photographs are on display at ASU’s Turchin Center for the Visual Arts in downtown Boone, and people are welcome to visit and observe the exhibit, before voting at an on-site kiosk.
Those interested can vote from home, or elsewhere, by visiting http://op.appstate.edu or http://www.appmtnphotocomp.org. Voting doesn’t cost a penny, and people have until March 30 to do so.
The voting process is easy, but it’s choosing one favorite that’s the hard part.
“I think they’re all fantastic,” Campbell said. “I’ve heard a couple people from the Turchin Center comment that they think it’s the best year yet, and I’m inclined to agree with them. It’s had a little bit of a different feel to it, which I really liked.”
That feel includes a particularly strong Blue Ridge Parkway category, Campbell said, along with the Adventure category.
“There was a lot of great work this year,” said Ellen Gwin, professional photographer and one of the competition’s judges. “I think this year’s offers a really different artistic expression over the typical shows we’ve seen, and with a little bit of humor, as well. It’s always different. There’s always some kind of ‘wow’ images that surprise me, a different look, a different perspective of the same scene.”
But Campbell and Gwin are interested in hearing what the public thinks.
“We’re in maybe the fourth or fifth year of the People’s Choice Award,” Campbell said. “Part of that was just to give the public a chance to participate, a chance to see all the images. One of the judges said that, for them, it’s really interesting to see what the public likes. Is it similar or different from their own view?”
“Being an artist, something I think is one of my favorite images and what people like is always different,” she said. “So, it’s always interesting to see what people will pick.”
Whoever’s picked will receive a $350 cash prize from Footsloggers, one of the competition’s sponsors.
The deadline for People’s Choice voting is Friday, March 30, at 5 p.m. All winners will be publicly announced Saturday, March 31, during the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour at Farthing Auditorium. Beforehand, there will be a private reception for the competition finalists at the Turchin Center, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., during which the formal announcements will be made.
The photos will be on display through June 2 at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, located at 423 King St. in downtown Boone. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and Saturday, and noon to 8 p.m. Friday. The center is closed Sunday and Monday and observes all university holidays. There is no admission charge.
For more information on the Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition, and to vote, visit http://www.appmtnphotocomp.org.