The Buzz Magazines 2017 Photo Contest
After reviewing nearly 2,000 images, we are pleased to present the winners of The Buzz Magazines’ 12th annual photo contest. As we’ve come to expect, there were so many excellent entries again this year that we could have easily included many more winners in each category, so if your photo was not in the top four, realize it was a remarkably strong field. With any contest like this, the process is inevitably subjective. However, there are basic principles of photography that must be met, such as lighting, focus, exposure and composition. And there are personal elements to consider: subject, emotion and storytelling. Judging is “blind,” as the judges do not see the names of the photographers.
Congratulations to each of this year’s winners, and to our Grand Prize winner, Carl Henry, who will receive an Olympus TG-Tracker Action Camera, compliments of our contest sponsor, Houston Camera Exchange. Carl is not new to our contest, as last year he had a photo place in the Sports and Action category, and, in 2009, one of Carl’s photos was selected as our Grand Prize winner. Each year after publishing our winners, we inevitably get comments from our readers. Some agree with our judges, and others do not. So again this year we included a Readers’ Choice award and let the readers vote. We posted the 48 print finalists on our Facebook page, and the photos that received the most “Likes” became our Readers’ Choice winners. We received more than 1,700 reader “Likes” overall, and the winners are included here. The Buzz Magazines’ annual photo contest is open to all amateur photographers, so keep that in mind as you are shooting pictures in the upcoming year. Watch for next year’s call for entries on our social media and in the March 2018 print issue. Thanks to everyone who entered, our readers who voted online for our Readers’ Choice winners, our contest sponsor, Houston Camera Exchange, and our judges – professional photographers Michael Hart, Nikky LaWell, Bob Gomel and Butch Hall.
Grand Prize, Spring Snow Hits The Colony – Carl Henry, 62, took this photo of a king penguin colony at St. Andrews Bay on South Georgia Islands in November. There are almost half a million penguins at this colony, he explained. “I was attempting to capture the experience by using a wide crop and a lot of depth of field."
What the judges said “The highlights on their fur, coming from the left rear, add a three-dimensional quality to the image that elevates it from simple, flat, frontal lighting. The undulating landscape, leading to the right, and the vertical rock outcropping placed perfectly in the frame (“Rule of Thirds" is a rule for a reason) complete the sweep of the composition.” – Michael Hart
“When your eye scans back further, the penguins become their own mountain range flowing with the terrain. The adult black and white, with the mountains white and gray, and the babies the color of the rocks. I can’t help but notice they are facing the same way, and it makes me want to research more about the animal.” – Nikky LaWell
“Wall-to-wall king penguins, tens of thousands of them, with their distinctive orange markings, as if gathered for a mass rally! What is captured here is the perpetuation of the species, in all its glory. A stunning moment, preserved in perpetuity by this photograph.” – Bob Gomel
“The brown color of the king penguin chicks is rare. The expertise of the photographer, the composition of the image, and the rarity of that many brown chicks make this a beautiful photograph, perhaps a signature image.” – Butch Hall
First Place, Oldest Barber Shop – Kimberly Sutton, 49, took this photo of Shepard’s Barber Shop in downtown Conroe, Texas, which shows owner Leon Apostolo with regular customers waiting for a haircut and shave. The photo was taken last June during the Father's Day Weekend Conroe Cruiser Classic Car Show. Kimberly stopped in to say hello to Leon and decided to walk to the back of the shop and step up on a shoe shine stand to take this photo. Shepard's Barber Shop, called the oldest barber shop in Texas, has a Texas Historical Marker. Leon told Kimberly that customers drive from across Houston to get their hair cut. In 1955, Kimberly said, Elvis Presley had his hair cut at the shop when he came for a concert at Conroe High School.
Second Place, Running Among the Shadows – Crafton Deal, 17, took this photo last June in Girona, Spain. A seasoned photographer had advised Crafton, who’s a rising senior at The Kinkaid School, to try sitting in one spot and taking photos of people and things passing by over a long period of time. So he practiced in Girona, sitting for two hours in an alleyway. There, he captured this little boy. “The child seemed so carefree and mischievous, so I wanted to document his character and personality in the photo. This little boy's personality took me back to my carefree summer days from when I was younger.”
Third Place, Bella – Gracie Blue, 17, took this photo of her 12-year-old sister Bella this fall. “My sister looked adorable, and I loved the setup,” Gracie said. “I wanted to capture the everyday life of my little sister pretending to be ‘all grown up’ with a hair towel in a relaxing bubble bath.” Gracie is a rising senior at St. John’s School.
Fourth Place, My Little Muse – Mauricio Recinos, 46, took this photo of his daughter Marianna last December; she was almost 7 at the time, and he took some photos of her one evening. “I was happy with this one because she was so spontaneous. She gave me that sweet look of hers, the one that lets her get away with anything. She truly is my little muse.”
First Place, Take your Base – Matt Bennett took this photo of his son Ford in April at Guthrie Center during a Spring Branch-Memorial Sports Association Rookie baseball game. A baseball ricocheted off Ford’s arm and hit him square in the nose. “Although he got a bloody nose, an enterprising coach quickly found some napkins to staunch the bleeding, and he quickly got back into the action, hitting a double. In coach-pitch baseball, you don't get to take a base.”
Second Place, Victorious Patriot Walker – Matt Bennett took this photo of Walker Adams in November at the end of a flag-football playoff game at Guthrie Center. “The kids were so excited about winning, and I wanted to see if I could capture it.”
Third Place, Eye…ball – Wayne Donnelly, 64, “an avid hobbyist sports photographer,” took this photo during a lacrosse game between St. Pius X High School and St. Agnes Academy last March. The player looking directly into the camera is Ashley Dalton from the St. Pius X Panthers team.
Fourth Place, Hands First – Matt Bennett took this photo of Kate Donnelley, age 7 at the time, diving in for swim practice with the Afton Village swim team. “I was trying to practice taking swim photos. For the record, it's a lot harder to get swim photos once you add in judges and spectators.”
First Place, Twelve Legs Grasp – Shu Cheuk took this photo last August between the ponds of the Lien Hoa Temple on Howell, Sugar Land Rd. “Two damselflies were mating on a curved blade of grass. That was the last few weeks that Odonata [an order of carnivorous insects] in Houston can pass on their genetic materials to the next generation.”
Second Place, Arctic Sea Snakes – Carl Henry took this photo on a cold, rainy day last November in Prion Island, South Georgia. “We were cruising around the small island in a small zodiac, and the water was filled with this strange thick kelp that kept tangling the prop of the outboard but produced unique visuals while it undulated with the rolling of the sea and the misty light.” His “good camera” was packed in a waterproof bag, so he pulled out a point-and-shoot, waterproof camera from his pocket to capture the scene, “proof that is not the camera that makes the picture.”
Third Place, Hourglass – Mark Edelman, 55, took this photo last September at Upper Antelope Canyon, a slot canyon in Page, Ariz., a location he’s always wanted to photograph. “What you don't see is the chaos of hundreds of tourists we are trying to fight back to get this shot. At this time of year, literally nearly 1,000 tourists go through this narrow slot canyon per day to see the famous light beams, which we missed because it was cloudy. You can faintly see one in the upper part of the photo.”
Fourth Place, Working Hard for the Honey – Mauricio Recinos took this photo last June. He saw bees buzzing around flowers in front of his home. “Bees move fast, but at times they have the ability to stay still in the air while feeding. I was able to catch the bee at the right moment when she was still in the air.”
First Place, Cheerful Reunion – Shu Cheuk, 68, took this photo in April at the Smith Oaks Rookery in High Island, Texas. “Every time, when one of the adult egrets came back from fishing, the whole egret family was in a state of excitement and happiness. In about a minute, the egret that was babysitting took its turn to fetch food. The landing, the reunion and feeding are the moments all nature photographers cherish.”
Second Place, The Bulldog Michael Phelps – Matt Bennett, 40, took this photo of a bulldog swimming at the Danny Jackson Dog Park in January. “I have always had a soft spot for bulldogs and have never seen one that can swim. I took my kids to the dog park one day and saw a swimming bulldog. I wanted to take a photo to show my mom to prove that I saw one that can swim.”
Third Place, Seagulls in Flight – It was a sunny day last July in Galveston when Mauricio Recinos saw a flock of seagulls approaching. “I was lucky to get some shots just in time when they were above me. Taking pictures of animals in motion can be difficult, but if you get the right shot, it is also very rewarding. This picture, in my opinion, looked better in black and white because the monochrome tones give the scene a better mood and serenity.”
Fourth Place, Red Eyed Green Tree Frog – Robert Davis, 75, took this photo of a tiny red-eyed green tree frog, typically found in a neo-tropical rain forest in central America, at a workshop in St. Louis. “By the time they're adults, the frogs have turned a striking green, with blue-and-yellow striped sides, orange or red feet, a flash of blue on their thighs, and big red eyes. The bright colors are a defense mechanism. They are difficult to photograph, and this is best done when they are bred in captivity, as this one was. The image was taken with a Canon 50mm macro lens and a ring flash.”
First Place, Placid Palouse – Shu Cheuk took this photo in Palouse, Wash., last August. “The air was almost still. The haze was created by the setting sun on the dust of harvesters and regular traffic.”
Second Place, Heading Into Sunday Services – “Three king penguins appear to be headed into whaler’s church in Grytviken, South Georgia,” said photographer Carl Henry. He took this photo in November in an abandoned whaling station, built by the Norwegian Lutheran church in 1913. When he saw penguins lining up in front of the church, he broke away from his tour group to capture this shot. The church had a cameo appearance in the movie Happy Feet.
Third Place, National 911 Memorial and Museum – Benard Nelkin, 77, took this photo in March at the 9/11 Memorial site in New York. The photo is a reflection of the National 9/11 Memorial Museum. “I placed my iPhone as close to the mirrored wall of the adjacent building as I could in order to capture the building and its reflection, resulting in this photo.”
Fourth Place, Dramatic Skies at Golden Gate Bridge – “The Golden Gate Bridge has always drawn my attention,” said Darren Inoff, 49. He took this photo of the Golden Gate Bridge last August from the Sausalito side of the bridge near the old Fort Baker. “I have photographed it several times over the years but never from this angle. I wanted to capture it from a different perspective and in a more dramatic way.”
First Place, Paradise Beauty – Joseph Johnson, 9, took this photo of a Bird of Paradise flower in Maui last summer. “I thought the flower was beautiful. My 11-year-old brother, Luke, won first place in the animal category last year with his photo of a peacock, so I really wanted to submit a photo that would win in The Buzz 2017 photo contest. I have taken a lot of pictures of nature, animals and sports over the past year. My mom encouraged me but also said it was really hard to get one of your pictures to be selected as a finalist (she’s been trying for years). I was determined to get in, and am very happy that one of mine was chosen.” Joseph is a rising fourth grader at Veritas Christian Academy.
Second Place, Until Next Time – Isabelle Nuzzo, age 14, took this photo of Tyler Joseph from the band Twenty One Pilots at a concert in Little Rock, Ark., in March. The band’s frontman is standing on a platform being held up by fans as he sings his final song for the night. “I took this photo because I wanted to capture the special moment with Tyler and his fans in the crowd. My dad and I travelled to Little Rock just for this show.” Isabelle is a rising sophomore at Memorial High School.
Third Place, Take Your Base – This photo by Matt Bennett also won first place in the Sports category. Matt took this photo of his son Ford during a Spring Branch-Memorial Sports Association Rookie game after a baseball ricocheted off Ford’s arm and hit him in the nose.
Fourth Place, Fancy Footwork – Matt Bennett took this photo of 5-year-old Kai Culver on the sidelines of his older brothers’ soccer practice at the fields next to Grob Stadium last fall. He took the photo because “his footwork was remarkable, and he looks cool.” See all the photos included in the Readers’ Choice award voting on our Facebook page here.
Michael Hart has been providing photographic images to leading corporations, design firms and advertising agencies for over 30 years. His assignments have taken him to 49 states and more than 30 countries. Michael’s work has been represented in several years of the international Black & White Spider Awards, and his work appears in its book, The World’s Greatest Black and White Photography. Recent shows include APA-Los Angeles’ exhibit, “Off The Clock,” APA-San Francisco’s exhibit, “Something Personal,” and ASMP Houston’s FotoFest exhibit, where he received the Curator’s Choice award in 2014. His book, Biggio: The Final Game, is in the library of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Elizabeth Stone’s book, An Invitation to Entertain, for which he provided photography, was awarded a Gold Medal at the Independent Publisher Book Awards show, and he was recently elected to the national board of the American Society of Media Photographers. hartphoto.com [email protected]
Nikky LaWell, a Certified Professional Photographer and Photographic Craftsman from Professional Photographers of America, holds a BFA in photography from the University of Houston and owns a boutique studio specializing in family portraits with a personal perspective. Nikky has been the keeper of memories for the most important of moments, from babies and graduations to weddings and promotions. She is known for listening closely to her clients and coming up with ideas for intimate and creative photography sessions. Nikky says a strong photo compels viewers to react and evokes a genuine emotional response. Her awards include “Best Portrait of a Senior Professional” from the Professional Photographers Guild of Houston, “Best Wedding” from the Southwest Professional Photographers Association, “Best Wedding” from the Texas Professional Photographers Association, and the illustrious Kodak Gallery Award. Her images have been selected for the international FotoFest exhibition and the International Loan Collection of the Professional Photographers of America. lawellphoto.com [email protected]
Bob Gomel became a photographer with LIFE magazine in 1959. During the ’60s, his subjects included such luminaries as President Kennedy, The Beatles, Muhammad Ali, President Nixon, General MacArthur, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Marilyn Monroe, Peggy Lee and Dustin Hoffman. In addition to his LIFE assignments, he shot covers for magazines that included, among others, Fortune, Sports Illustrated and Forbes. In the ’70s and ’80s, he shot notable ad campaigns such as Merrill Lynch’s “Bullish on America” series. His work has been reproduced in over a dozen book collections. His awards include the prestigious Missouri School of Journalism’s Best Picture of the Year. Both the Library of Congress and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston have several of his works in their permanent collections. Most recently, the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin has committed to cataloging and preserving his archives for future generations. [email protected] Editor’s Note: Read more about renowned photographer Bob Gomel in our article Behind the Lens: The Life of a Life Photographer.
Butch Hall has been in the photography business for 52 years. In May of 1965, he bought an established studio in Fort Worth. The investment turned out to be the beginning of a 52-year career. Butch has been exposed to virtually all aspects of the photo industry. With a background in both black and white and color processing and printing to cinematography, videography and digital imaging, he has seen the massive changes that have occurred in photography in the last half century. He has photographed more than 1,000 weddings, taken thousands of aerial photographs and has become an expert in forensic, portrait and animal photography, among other specialties. He has extensive experience in the sales side of the industry, working with large industrial clients, newspapers, studio owners and other businesses. For the past several years, Butch has been teaching, helping and encouraging local photographers at the Houston Camera Exchange. [email protected]
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