The Buzz Magazines 2018 Photo Contest
After reviewing more than 1,500 submitted images, we are pleased to present the winners of The Buzz Magazines’ 13th annual photo contest. Congratulations to all and especially to our Grand Prize winner, Darren Inoff, who will receive an Olympus TG-Tracker Action Camera, compliments of Houston Camera Exchange. With any contest like this, the process is 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 names or any information about the photographers.
We also let our readers vote. We posted the 36 print finalists on our Facebook page, and the photos that received the most “Likes” became our Readers’ Choice winners. 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 website, social media and in the March 2019 print issue. Thanks to everyone who entered, our judges, our readers who voted online, and our contest sponsor, Houston Camera Exchange.
Icelandic Horses, Grand Prize Winner Darren Inoff, 49, took this photo of three Icelandic horses in Northern Iceland in January 2018. “I was intrigued by these beautiful horses in Northern Iceland during the dead of winter and had to try and capture their beauty,” he said.
What the judges said: “This arresting portrait of three horses pops off the page – their exotic coloration, the suggestion that they are concentrating on a single subject, with a mixture of concern and resignation. This photograph penetrates the veneer and reveals something of their combined character.” – Bob Gomel
“The composition, the color and the subjects combine for a beautiful photograph. The emphasis of the pose typifies the mystique of the herd animal. A genuinely brilliant photograph.” – Butch Hall
“Wonderful and inventive cropping, with the three heads together, all in sharp focus. The single eye peeking around the corner on the far left adds a special touch, and the similar, warm tone of the three horses adds up to a photo that invited repeated viewing.” – Michael Hart
“Strong elements that emerge from the Icelandic Horses are color harmony, composition and a solid exposure. Cartier-Bresson's 'decisive moment' is in motion, as one eye on each animal shows, as the maker is waiting and watching for the right moment (down to the white of the eye on the far left horse). The light/dark repeating pattern keeps the viewer’s eyes dancing around the image. Cropping is important to the composition. The maker removes any distracting elements, the mind automatically fills in the missing parts, and brings the viewer to the heart of the animal, the eyes. There’s no fear in their eyes or body language. I think they are alert, waiting for their own decisive moment, curiosity and carrots, or to bolt at the smell of a human. This is where the viewer joins in, to complete the story in their mind. When an image invites the viewer to be part of the story, instead of an observer, that’s when the image is truly memorable.” – Nikky LaWell
Les Aiguilles de Port Coton, First Place/Landscapes Monica Siri, 48, visited the island of Belle-Île-en-Mer last spring, a “gem in the Golfe de Morbihan in Brittany.” She captured the Port-Coton needles, the Aiguilles de Port-Coton. “Their name comes from the foam-whipped, heavy weather, ...large flakes sparkling like cotton. In the cove of Port Coton, you can see the rocky needles with martyred shapes standing against the sea elements,” she said. She quoted Claude Monet, who described the Aiguilles de Port Coton as such: "This is sinister, diabolical, but superb and I do not find elsewhere such thing.” That day, after a storm, “The sky burst with color which caused stunning light effects. I had to be there. So I took my camera and tripod and witnessed a wonderful show.”
Cat at Bat, First Place/Sports and Action Claire Zurek, 45, took this photo at the Memorial Middle School baseball fields on April 28, 2017. Anderson Jones, age 10, is pictured at bat. He was playing for the Rebels, a Pee Wee SBMSA baseball team. “Repeatedly, the pitches were coming in high and to the right (first year of kid pitch). Anderson was keenly watching the balls and continued jumping back or sideways to avoid being hit. Finally, a pitch came in that was high and right, at which time Anderson swiftly jumped up with amazing, cat-like reflexes.” She was shooting at high speed with a steady hand (on a monopod) from the first-base fence line. Jake Alexander, 10, is the batter on deck, and Jackson Ambrose, 10, is the catcher. This photo received third place in our Readers’ Choice Contest.
Frosty River in East Rock Park, Second Place/Landscapes Ting-Tai Helen Weng, 69, took this photo Oct. 4, 2017 in New Haven, Connecticut. The image is of a view of a pedestrian bridge over the Mill River in East Rock Park. The park is named after the mountainous ridge in the background. “I have photographed the park in every season in (the) past 10 years while visiting family members in New Haven, Connecticut. This photo was taken using an infrared camera to enhance the winter beauty.”
The Last Leaf, Fourth Place/Nature Mauricio Recinos took this photo of a tree leaf in May while walking his dog with one of his daughters. He decided to take his camera with him. He noticed the sun was going down and the leaves were backlit. At first, he couldn’t take any shots because the wind kept moving the leaves. “On our way back I decided to try again. This time I was lucky as for a moment there was no wind. I took some photos, and when I checked them at home, the very last one was the best. The last leaf.”
Full Moon on Duty, Fourth Place/Landscapes Kathy Miller-Fujimoto, 56, took this photo in the early morning hours on New Year’s Day in Manhattan Beach, Calif. At the time, she’d recently begun studying long exposure techniques. A unique moon, known as the Full Wolf Moon, was scheduled to set before first light, a rare occurrence that she knew would offer a good opportunity to gain long exposure experience. She arrived at the beach about an hour before sunrise and came across this shuttered lifeguard stand. “Coupled with the light of the setting moon, it seemed a great subject for a photo, rich with crisp angularities, ephemeral textures, and poetic ambiguities. The lighting was perfect,” she said. “Time was critical, as the moon was just about to dip behind a thick layer of fog. I took a few shots, this rather pleasantly brooding one being my favorite.”
Downtown Vulture, Third Place/Animals Robert Davis, 77, said he’s interested in the architecture of downtown Houston. “The Pennzoil Place has a unique trapezoidal silhouette and represents the first skyscraper of the modern era,” he said. It was designed by Philip Johnson, who won the Pritzker Prize in Architecture in 1979. “Its angles, geometry and highlights combine to give a photographer a huge number of vantage points, all of which will be different from one another.” He took this photograph a year ago on a Sunday with no traffic around and waited till the lighting was perfect. “The image really captured the geometrical perfection with great light.”
Peekaboo, Second Place/Animals Mauricio Recinos, 47, took this photo of a monkey at the Houston Zoo this March on a warm afternoon. “The monkey was under the shade of a plant. He would stick out his head to check the surroundings and then he would go back. I found it interesting how he did it and decided to take a photo,” he said. “He looked like he was playing peekaboo.”
Nest Building Failure, First Place/Nature Ying Chun Jerry Pan, 77, took this photo at Smith Oaks Bird Sanctuary, March 15, 2018, of a pair of Great Egrets attempting to build a nest on a dead tree. “In previous years, nests were successfully built on the tree. This year, the tree did not have enough branches to securely support a nest. Their nest collapsed, and they abandoned the tree,” he said. He frequently visits Smith Oaks Bird Sanctuary to photograph nesting Great Egrets, Roseate Spoonbills and other birds.
Slipped By, Second Place/Sports and Action Matt Bennett, 41, took this photo on April 12 at the Post Oak Little League Pee Wee Field “for the showdown between the Mustangs and the Aggies.” At this moment, Reid Sequeira slid in a successful effort to evade Kade Polidori's attempt at a tag out. “The kids love seeing how heroic they are on the field.”
Bald Eagles Fight, First Place/Animals Ying Chun Jerry Pan, 77, took this photo of a juvenile bald eagle (left) and a nearly mature bald eagle (right) fighting for a fish at Conowingo Dam on Nov. 3, 2017. “Bald Eagles congregate at the dam to fish during fall migration. Sometimes, an attempt to steal a fish is made, and the bald eagles perform spectacular aerobatic maneuvers as the fish is contested,” he said. He had been visiting Conowingo Dam to attend Conowingo Eagles Day.
The Clay Boys, Third Place/People Matt Bennett, 41, took this photo of his nephews Travis, 2, and Bennett Clay, 3, in December 2017 at his office. “It was our second attempt at getting a photo of seven cousins for a Christmas card, and the kids weren’t going for it. Eventually, I gave up and took photos of the cousins going wild, and exactly one photo was worth keeping that made it all worth doing.”
Air Guitar, Fourth Place/People Richard Molnar, 23, took this photo of his friend Sam Lathrop, who’s the lead guitarist for The Beatnik Bandits, a band located near Austin. He took this photo in March in an Austin studio called WaveForm. “I liked the idea of having movement in the photo,” he said. “Their music has so much energy behind it that I wanted to express that in a single image the best I could.” He chose black and white because the contrast was “extreme” and made it “eye-popping.” This was his first time shooting in a studio, and he initially found the lights and backdrops intimidating but was pleased with the results. This photo received first place in our Readers’ Choice Contest.
Let it Snow, Second Place/People Mauricio Recinos, 47, took this photo of his daughter Marianna last January; at the time, she was 7. He said his daughters were very excited when it snowed; they played outside and made snowmen and snow angels. “It was a cold day when we decided to take this picture. I love it because she looks so calm. The dark background helps to bring out her features. My girls like the snow a lot, so there it is. “Let it snow, Marianna, let it snow...”
Jellyfish, Third Place/Nature Randee Berman, 45, took this photo of the jellyfish exhibit in the Vancouver Aquarium in British Columbia, Canada. “The jellyfish exhibit caught my eye. I loved the tranquility of the jellyfish juxtaposed with the chaos of a Saturday at the aquarium,” Randee said.
Colored Houses, Third Place/Landscapes Peter Deleef, 46, took this photo in February of 2018 in Galveston on the Seawall. He was stopped at a red light and looked over at the condos and liked the colors. Peter had his camera with him and “managed to take the picture before the light changed,” he said.
Seagulls in Flight, Second Place/Nature Mauricio Recinos, 47, took this photo of a flock of seagulls in flight last May in Galveston. He was spending the day at the beach with his family when he spotted a few seagulls passing by, and then some more. He didn’t have his camera ready, so he thought he missed the chance. A few moments later, more seagulls came by, and they were flying low and he was able to capture some shots. “I like this photo because I was able to capture many of them in the same frame, having in focus the one closest to me. “I like the dreamy look of the photo because it is a little different and easy on the eyes. Many times we want sharp, vivid pictures, but sometimes less is more.”
Dancer, Fourth Place/Sports and Action Dr. Yun Wang, 55, took this photo of a dance performance at Miller Outdoor Theatre in May 2017. “I was sitting on the hill and very impressed by the dancers, who displayed energy, passion and beauty.”
They Have Arrived, Third Place/Sports and Action Christopher An, 19, took this photo of college students playing with a football at Clark Field at The University of Texas at Austin. It was “remarkably foggy” that evening. “I noticed just how unnaturally dense the fog was. To get a better view, I headed down to the field and realized that the field lights were shrouded in a way that made them look like alien UFOs, so I started taking pictures.” Initially, he only had his phone with him. “After returning to the field with my DSLR, I excitedly tried to get the remaining students on the field to pose like they were watching the 'UFOs' descend from the fog, but then the field lights shut off. They automatically turned off at 11 p.m.” Christopher, a graduate of Memorial High School, is a second-year mechanical engineering student at UT.
Mine Worker, First Place/People Joe Naccache, 61, says this portrait is of a former silver mine worker in Pozos, Mexico. He was introduced to Don Ramón by a tour guide in December 2016 during a visit to the ruins of the mine in this once-vibrant town. “He was one of the few surviving miners – most of his fellow miners and some family members had died of arsenic and mercury poisoning, an occupational hazard,” Joe said. “I was deeply moved by my encounter with Don Ramón, who still lived with his family in the ruins of the old mine.” Don Ramón had endured years of hard labor and health issues, only to lose his 40-year-old son, who had died from diabetes not long beforehand. “He nonetheless seemed at peace with his life’s circumstances, anchored in the support of his family and his faith. His life story is etched in the wrinkles of his face – and also in the jaunty tilt of his hat and stylish jacket. I treasure this image as a reminder of the importance of staying positive in spite of the curveballs life throws at you.” This photo received second place in our Readers’ Choice Contest.
Rhythm is Nothing, Fourth Place/Animals Maya Kanani, 18, took this photo of a Japanese sea nettle (Chrysaora pacifica), which is a type of jellyfish found in the Pacific Ocean. Maya took this during summer 2017 at the Kipp Aquarium at the Houston Zoo. She volunteered there for two years and had the opportunity to take photos of the animals. “Jellyfish are my favorite animals and getting to capture such a beautiful image of one of them was incredible for me.”) A Bellaire High School graduate, Maya is heading to The University of Texas at Austin and will major in journalism. This photo received fourth place in our Readers’ Choice Contest.
Michael Hart has been providing photographic images to leading corporations, design firms and advertising agencies for almost 40 years. His assignments have taken him to 49 states and more than 30 countries. Michael’s work is consistently represented in the international Black & White Spider Awards, and an image appears in its book, The World’s Greatest Black and White Photography. Recent shows include the APA Chicago Artist’s Perspective and “Pixels + Silver” FotoFest exhibit. He is a member of the National Board of Directors of the American Society of Media Photographers. Recent accolades include a local Gold and a national ADDY Award from the American Advertising Federation and inclusion in the upcoming “Black & White 2018” show at The Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colo. His book, Biggio: The Final Game, is in the library of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and a photo from it is in The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. hartphoto.com [email protected]
Nikky LaWell, Certified Professional Photographer and Master Craftsman Photographer 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. Editor’s Note: Read more about renowned photographer Bob Gomel in our article Behind the Lens: The Life of a Life Photographer. [email protected]
Butch Hall has been in the photography business for 53 years. In May of 1965, he bought an established studio in Fort Worth. The investment turned out to be the beginning of a 53-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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