Saturday, May 15, 2010

Judging in good company

A few weeks ago, Jay Satz, the regional vice president of the Student Conservation Association, asked me if I would consider being a judge for their annual photo contest. "One of the other judges is Ken Burns," he said.

I looked at him, waiting for the punch line, and when it didn't come, I sputtered, really? You want me to judge photos alongside Ken Burns, as if I were anywhere close to his caliber in anything regarding visual communication? "We really like your photos," he said. "Your photos have been very good for SCA."

It's true, I take a lot of pictures in the course of my job as Volunteer Program Manager at Mount Rainier National Park. I believe in the power of photos to tell compelling stories. Many of those images have been of SCA interns and crews working in the field, or of volunteer groups being led by SCA crew leaders.  But Ken Burns?

Well, the photo contest is set to go public in a few days, and I'm listed as one of the judges, first in the list due to the luck of the alphabet. Other judges include Katy Barnes, staff photographer at the Concord Monitor and an SCA alumn; Dan Eldridge, professional photographer and also an SCA alumn; Jay Heinrichs, editor of Southwest Airlines Spirit Magazine; and of course Ken Burns, filmmaker at Florentine Films, ten-time Emmy Award winner, two-time Oscar nominee, and recipient of twenty honorary degrees. I figure they needed a good cross-section of talent to do the judging, and thus needed someone to balance all that talent!

You can judge for yourself whether I'm being overly humble. But I definitely feel humbled. Nevertheless, I'm eagerly looking forward to seeing the photos. The contest will be open to submissions through July 11, so log on and send yours in! And as I'm judging your photos, feel free to judge mine. Some of my best are here in this blog. Your comments and feedback are welcome, and may help me, someday, to feel comfortable on the same page as one of "the most influential documentary makers" of all time.

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