by TaLeiza Calloway
To Isaac Ramirez, the image of spinning tops looks cool. So he took a picture of it.
Adreya Connor uses her surroundings for motivation. The 7-year-old took snapshots around her school. Images included the flagpole and the playground.
Ramirez and Connor attend the KIDSTOP program at Kennedy Community School and are among more than 100 students who participated in the annual ImageMakers Photography Exhibit.
There were 168 photos submitted by 107 youth in the Boys and Girls Club of Central Minnesota’s annual exhibit. A panel of judges was tasked with selecting entries to go on to a regional exhibit.
Four age categories participated with each student having the option to enter photo types including color process, black-and-white process, alternative process, digital and photo essay.
In each of the categories, a Distinguished Artist ribbon is awarded. Those selected advance to the regional exhibit. But it’s not about praise for some and not others because everyone received a black-and-gold Creative Excellence ribbon – a symbol of recognition.
St. Joseph residents and siblings Lance and Lydia Anderson both have photos advancing to the regional level. Both were excited to see their yellow ribbons on display March 15 at the Crossroads Shopping Center in St. Cloud.
Each of them is drawn to photography for different reasons. Lance, 7, was a national winner last year in the photo contest. In his opinion, photography is a great way to remember events or places. What Lydia, 9, said she likes most about photography is capturing the right image.
Gerri Bechtold, director of KIDSTOP operations for the Boys and Girls Club of Central Minnesota, said students prepare for the annual photo competition year-round with the interest of students rising all the while.
“It (the quality of photos) actually has really grown,” Bechtold said. “There’s a lot of education. They don’t just snap a photo.”
Admitting the variety and range of talent can be overwhelming; Bechtold said she would not want to be a judge. It would just be too hard.
While KIDSTOP locations provide cameras for students through photo clubs at the various locations, some parents also buy cameras for their children to offer an assist.
“It opens up an opportunity for these kids,” Bechtold said. “It fosters an interest.”
Porter Siltman is grateful for this opportunity. The 11-year-old Sauk Rapids resident said his introduction to photography came from the KIDSTOP program in which he belongs.
For Siltman, photography is all about the end result.
“I like that you can take a picture and it comes out different(ly) than you expected,” Siltman said.
Rhonda Siltman, Porter’s mother, says this is his third time submitting photos for the contest. He has a wall in his room where he hangs his work. There are about seven photos up now.
“It’s awesome,” Rhonda Siltman said. “Everywhere we go, he’s taking photos. It’s fun.”
According to a news release from the Boys and Girls Club of Central Minnesota, 20 national winners will be named by BGCA, and their photography will be displayed in the ImageMakers National Photography Contest traveling exhibition and at special BGCA events throughout the year.