By Yvonne Wright • The Current Contributing Writer
Since 2012, now in its seventh year, the Carbon County Environmental Educational Center (CCEEC) of Summit Hill has hosted its annual photography contest and art exhibition – an event to which photographers are invited regardless of their professional experience or age. But rather, the criteria by which the artworks were accepted and judged is solely based on artistic merit reflecting the individual’s passion for photography and his/her love of nature.
Every year in March, and for a duration of four weeks, the growing in popularity photography contest presents the anticipating audience with a selection of photographs in line with a particular theme. The 2019 theme of the exhibit was Carbon County, and works were judged and awarded in three categories: Macro, Landscape and Wildlife, i.e., best capturing the natural beauty of the region.
The exhibition organizer, naturalist Jeannie Carl, who is also an avid photographer herself, and a member of the Palmerton Camera Club, first came up with the idea of organizing a photography competition in 2012. “I just wanted to see if it would work” she confesses rather humbly, “and every year, we are asked if we are hosting the exhibition again…“ Clearly a visionary idea that grew big and inspired many people to “get outside” and document nature’s fleeting moments, while at the same time discovering parts of Carbon County unfamiliar before. Jeannie’s leadership is spearheading the event, while an accomplished local photographer and experienced contest judge, Phil Campbell, brings his unbiased opinion and professional expertise to the contest.
With the growing popularity of the exhibition amongst photographers and visitors alike, efforts have been made over the years to increase visibility of the event through social media. Multiple Facebook announcements have appeared, promotions have been added to the CCEEC News Letter, printed flyers produced and advertisements have been placed in the Times News and What’s Happening. Additionally, a very efficiently handled “constant contact” initiative was employed by emailing notifications to a formidable 600 CCEEC members and 300 Mauch Chunk Park Lake members as a combined network of supporters, 900 people strong. The “People’s Choice” ballots available at the premises during business hours (pencils included) make it convenient for people to vote.
The March 2019 Photography Contest included 56 works by 22 local photographers. Due to the Center’s space restrictions and the organizers’ desire to include more photographers, limits on the works’ sizes were imposed. Each work was judged by its ability to meet visually appealing criteria, having clearly identifiable subject matter, and its level of creativity. And so, the First Place & Price Winners were: In Macro Photography “Inch by Inch” by Lynn Shupp, of Palmerton; Wildlife “Golden” by Lucy Freck of Kunkletown; and Landscape “Caught Between Night & Day” by Lynn Shupp of Palmerton. The People’s Choice Award went to “Golden” by Lucy Freck of Kunkletown. The Judge’s Honorable Mentions included: Macro photography “Dogwood” by Lucy Freck of Kunkletown, Wildlife “Running Coyote” by Jason Stewart of Weatherly, and Landscape “The Keyhole” by Kip Hoffman of Weatherly. The CCEEC’s Honorable Mentions included: Macro “Forget-Me-Nots” by Francis Borso of Fountain Hill, and two works in Landscape category “Birch #1” by Lynn Hontz of Nesquehoning and “Diamonds in the Rough” by Jim Denicola of Northampton.
The photography contest is one of several fundraisers (in this case in a small capacity, as most of the entry fees go back into the contest as prizes and ribbon trophies), official CCEEC annual fund-raising campaigns start in June. In operation since 1985, the Carbon County Environmental Educational Center supports various school programs and family events held at the center.
If you missed the 2019 Photography Contest, don’t fret but give Jeannie Carl a call, or simply visit the CCEEC at 151 East White Bear Drive in Summit Hill, because there is always something exciting to see and experience.