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I have an attraction to blue skies in photographs and I am very sensitive to color against it; everything seems to pop. Along with that, I am fascinated by images that show the polarity between nature and man-made objects. McDonalds is such an iconic symbol; by showing a portion, people still visualize the rest of the sign and create their own narrative based on past experiences, even my 4-year-old niece, Sarah, said, "Why did you take a picture of the McDonalds sign?"
I love color in photography. When I see a color photograph and the colors play well against each other everything begins to makes sense. It is as if there is something greater and more universal going on in the world. That might sound contrived, but sometimes you need that in life. I always want to show the sky as the overarching symbol in any image because the sky is nature and wherever you are in the world, you are still reminded of that fact; you are still in nature.
My professor at Parsons said that my work has an "aesthetic of the bad" quality; this put a smile on my face. I love horror and science fiction films from the '80s with their use of color. It was vivid and beautiful: the silent dialogue within the narrative. I try to bring an ambiguous narrative within my work, with color and composition, for the viewer, I think this keeps the imagination alive and the rest just falls into place.
— P. Seth Thompson, 31, Fayetteville
Winner: Best use of color
"In a Pig's Eye," 2010
Big Pig was captured on a day trip to a petting zoo near Chattanooga, Tenn., in the early spring. This particular pig was trying to sleep and more than a little grumpy about my attempts to keep him awake. The most difficult part was to catch him with his eye open long enough for an exposure.
My favorite photographs are my macros concentrating on the little details of nature that make it exciting. With animals this almost always seems to lead to their eyes; they can be so filled with life and expression. As I provoked the animal to get the photograph, I was worried that this enormous hog would finally rise to its feet and that I would have to run and my concentration was constantly interrupted by toy goats chewing on my clothes and equipment.
I like the photograph because it has the effect of an old German engraving. Part of the appeal of photography to me is that the digital process has made it affordable for everyone and so it opens many more windows than when the expense of film limited its practice. It's a wonderful hobby that never stops growing. I chose to submit this photograph because it is one of my all-time favorites and has received many compliments from my friends. I have only been taking photos for four years so I am still a child in this hobby.
— Carole Freeman, 70, Kennesaw
Winner: Second place, Seniors
"A Woman and Child Sitting in Little 5," 2010
I wasn't really thinking about anything, I just decided to take their picture. They didn't pose or anything - it just happened to come out nice. My teacher said it had a very '70s feel to it. I personally like the expressions on both their faces, the woman looks kind of uncomfortable and is trying to force a smile, and the baby is just surprised and confused.
I'm a senior at Paideia high school and this is my first year doing photography. I had always taken art classes but the last year I was getting a little bit bored with drawing and painting. My art teacher noticed this, I guess, and recommended I take photography. I felt photography would be a nice break from what I had been doing for the past years and so far I have really enjoyed it.
— Jack Chapel, 17, Atlanta
"A Boy From Little 5," 2010
I thought it was interesting how he probably was no older than 10 or 11 and he is wearing this stylish outfit that made him look like a little hip-hop artist. He kind of reminded me of Kid Cudi. When I asked if I could take some pictures of him he started doing all these poses: He gave me the peace sign, he did a salute kind of thing, he leaned back and crossed his arms, and he posed like he was holding a gun, holding it sideways like some gangster. I just thought it was funny how there was this little kid who looked and posed just like any rapper you might see on TV or something. It just shows how much celebrities influence kids and all people really.
— Jack Chapel, 17, Atlanta
Viewers Choice award