SAG HARBOR IN FOCUS: THIRD ANNUAL PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITION AND COMPETITION BY AND FOR PIERSON STUDENTS May 12 - May 20, 2018, Sag Harbor Whaling & Historical Museum 200 Jermain Ave, Sag Harbor, NY
RECEPTION AND AWARDS CEREMONY SATURDAY, May 12, 5;30-7:30PM Award Presentation @ 6:15PM
PANEL: ADVERSITY, DIVERSITY, AND CHANGE SATURDAY, May 19, 4:00PM In the spirit of the sagacity of our youth who have been speaking out nationwide, we warmly encourage you to come to this panel! It will be led by Peter Solow.
Juried by Theo Gray and Michael Heller * Sponsored by the Sag Harbor Partnership, Sag Harbor Whaling & Historical Museum, Cygnet Foundation, Theo Gray, and the Reutershan Educational Trust Our Town - Sag Harbor in Focus is a celebration of both our village of Sag Harbor and a reflection on living on the East End of Long Island as experienced by our community’s young people, students from Pierson High School. It is also a celebration of our students’ creativity and achievement as witnessed in their photography.
* Please scroll down for comments from one of the judges, Michael Heller, award-winning photographer for the Sag Harbor Express.
Architecture Carly Browngardt – Winner
Family Esrin Acar – Winner
The Human Condition Sophie Borzilleri – Winner
Landscape Isabella DiRussa – Winner
Permanence and Metamorphosis Leigh Hatfield – Winner
Photo Journalism Daniella Schiff – Winner
Portraiture Sophia Borzilleri – Winner
Sag Harbor History Esrin Acar – Winner
Street Photography Sophia Borzilleri – Winner
Unclassified Brooke Canavan – Winner
Architecture Griffin Federico – Runner Up
Family Griffin Federico – Runner Up
The Human Condition Griffin Federico – Runner Up
Landscape Phoebe Bennett – Runner Up
Permanence and Metamorphosis Ava Kiss – Runner Up
Photo Journalism Gianna Ekstra – Runner Up
Portraiture Ava Kiss – Runner Up
Sag Harbor History Ava Kiss – Runner Up
Street Photography Griffin Federico – Runner Up
Unclassified Isabella DiRussa – Runner Up
As a first-time judge of a high school photography competition, I must say that I came away amazed. It is true – and as I expected – that these are young photographers who are only just beginning to learn to see the world and express themselves through the medium of a camera. I was forewarned that many of the entries might not be completely relevant to the contest categories that they were entered into, and indeed that was the case, but at the same time I understood that in most cases this was not the result of a lack of consideration or effort on the part of the students, but instead simply an indication that they were still relative beginners at this craft, and had yet to learn and gain more experience at defining their visions into the somewhat standard categories of which this contest is comprised. This made the judging tricky at times, as in many cases I had to look past what the image was literally and try to place myself inside the mind of the photographer, to try to see what their intention was, in addition to the final result.
That being said, however, what came across as well – and what might not be as readily apparent to the viewer of just the winning entries, since (aside from instructor Peter Solow) I alone was able to see all of the submissions – was just how much these students have to say about their world, and their efforts to say it. I was given glimpses into a world that we as adults perhaps saw at one time, but also one that in many ways has changed drastically from when we were that age...and not necessarily for the better. But even though their photographic skills are still somewhat nascent and they struggle as a result to use the medium as an effective form of expression, it was still very clear to me that for those students who enjoy using a camera – as seen here in this exhibition – the world and their lives ahead of them are just bursting with opportunities for that expression; all that needs to happen now is for them to have continued guidance, structure, opportunities and (most importantly) encouragement to do so within our educational system.
As a judge, however, it was my role to stick to the rules and make my selections within each photographic category, as they pertain to each category. To that end, I found myself being fairly strict when assessing each entry within each category: as brilliant a shot as it might have been overall, I felt it was my duty to dismiss it from consideration if it did not fit the definition of what (in my 35+ years of experience) I felt that category should contain. I must stress here that there were many excellent photos that I was forced to disqualify for this reason, but – as we all have to learn, life is (in many cases) all about following rules, and (most especially) learning how to follow them. Please know that I was not insensitive to the fact that these students are still learning these rules – in photo contests like these, and in life in general – and that I took that into consideration when making my selections. This may sound cliché but it is nonetheless true: very, very often I was forced to choose winners vs. non-winners between images that were both excellent; it was only after going back and forth between them over and over again, being increasing nitpicky and critical, that I was able to select one over the other.
At the other end of the spectrum, what was obvious to me – and no doubt you, the viewers – is the quality of work I was given to choose from. I am proud and honored to have been a judge for this contest, and we all should raise a toast to these students and the wonderful body of work that they have created.
- Michael Heller
The Sag Harbor Partnership would like to thank the Sag Harbor Whaling & Historical Museum, Cygnet Foundation, Theo Gray, the Reutershan Educational Trust, judges Theo Gray and Michael Heller, and most particularly Peter Solow and Liz Marchisella, the extraordinary art teachers at Pierson who give these students the opportunity to excel.