By Bridget Brave
To quote Ansel Adams, infinitely more knowledgeable about photography as art form than I: “There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.” For the third annual Random Exposure photography contest, VITAL’s judges honored that exact notion, finding in each of our winners something striking, something amazing. Photographs capture a certain moment in time, and thereby capture the emotion behind that moment. Joy, despair, victory, heartbreak – a well-timed photograph can place the viewer inside the moment, freezing it forever in time. Whatever that image might make you feel, the fact that it makes you feel something is a testament to its power. That power is what distinguishes a picture from a great picture.
Each of the selected winners brought one of those amazing moments to light. Children frolic and play; we see beauty, isolation, adoration. Amateur photographer next to professional, the images on the following pages were created with similar purpose: to record an instant in time that forces a response.
Black and white and color photographs were judged in each category: action, abstract, landscape/still life, portrait and motorcycles, with a separate winner for amateur and professional in each. We’d like to extend our eternal gratitude to the distinguished panel of judges who carefully evaluated nearly 300 entries: Tim Abler, Chair of the undergraduate department of art at Cardinal Stritch University; Scott Krahn, a veteran Creative Director at BVK; and highly accomplished commercial photographer Scott Ritenour. Many thanks also to Cori Coffman, Executive Director of the Eisner American Museum of Advertising and Design for doing so much to ensure that both the judging and the upcoming celebration maintain the highest possible standards and for providing one year Eisner memberships to all of our winners.
To experience and respond to these photographic moments firsthand, please join VITAL at the Eisner on Thursday, August 14 for Random Exposure: The Show. The winners, jury selections, and VITAL’s staff picks will be on display, and you’ll have an opportunity to vote for your favorite as well as win prizes.VS
BEST OF SHOW
Best Portrait – Amateur
Nikki McGuinnis, “Keep Refrigerated”
Best Action – Amateur
Nikki McGuinnis, “Lennox”
Nikki McGuinnis began by watching. Then she took to documenting what she saw – or imagined. She has studied shape, symmetry and balance through drawing, painting and most keenly through photography and image manipulation. She is most moved by saturation and intimacy and works to recognize opportunities to capture images that offer the brightness of life with the promise of pain – a bruised beauty. meancamp.com
Best Action – Professional
Nathaniel Davauer, “The Main Event”
Born and raised in the countryside of southern Wisconsin, Nathaniel Davauer spent his formative years working on the family farm. He left the cows behind to earn an art degree at UW Madison in the 90s. His love for photography developed while living and working in China. He photographs people, weddings, sports and kids but his passion still lies in fleeting, mysterious moments captured while traveling. He lives with his wife in Milwaukee where he works as a freelance photographer. davauer.com
Best Abstract – Professional
Hannah Scott, “All Dogs go to Heaven”
Photography is Hannah’s drug of choice. She has been ‘using’ ever since she could pick up a camera. Originally she wanted a camera solely because the different colors in SLR lenses were appealing to her. Now, a little more mature and not as amused by different colors or shiny objects, she uses her camera as a tool to show others life from her perspective. She photographs what fascinates her and is interested in the viewer’s reaction to the picture, not the explanation.
Best Abstract – Amateur
Nicole Bennett, “Your Body is a Battleground”
Nicole Bennett is 19 and just beginning. She lives with her bike-boy loverman, takes everyone’s photo, writes zines and loves dresses. She wants her work to be something bigger than a simple photograph; she wants to make living her art. nicole-bennett.com
Best Motorcycle Photo
Tasha Kertscher, “Michaelcycle”
Tasha is an art therapy student at Mt. Mary College and will finally graduate this December. She lives in Riverwest with her fiancé and their three kitties. Tasha enjoys coffee, writing and photo-taking. She is an avid collector of all things owls. She hopes that someday she will get a real job and buy a fancy camera.
Best Portrait – Professional
Tom Julio, “she EXIST(s)”
Tom Julio has been a nuclear physics teacher, filmmaker, radio personality and corporate computer hacker. Over the past year, “macro-femininity” has been a core focus of his photographic exploration – capturing real women and emotions, the duality of light and shadow, soft and hard, strength and vulnerability. After a year on the road capturing Americana, with stays in Los Angeles and San Francisco, Tom now resides in Milwaukee, a place he truly loves to call home. tomjulio.com
Best Still Life/Landscape– Amateur
Marie Angela Günther, “Sweet Tooth”
Marie is fond of writing whimsical love letters via pen, photographs and her violin. When it comes to photography, she has been teaching herself over the last few years, and tends to shoot from the heart, not from the book. flickr.com/photos/mariebee
Best Still Life/Landscape – Professional
Julia L. Elsner, “Keep Out!”
Julia L. Elsner is a local Milwaukee artist, photographer, and student. This August, Julia will start her second year at MIAD toward earning her BFA in Photography. Julia credits MIAD Professor Larry Chatman with pushing and encouraging her to stay true to herself through her photography. This encouragement led to a series of strong, thought-provoking photographs, including this piece.