While these days anyone with a smartphone can take a photo, only some possess the patience and the eye to create an image that tells a story, or inspires us to look at the commonplace as if seeing it for the first time. This year’s winners of
Yankee’s annual reader photo contest do just that. A blanket of snow descends on a Somerville neighborhood, and Mary Kocol’s lens finds a quiet world apart from anything, and anybody. We can only imagine the lives inside, the residents peering out at snow that deepens by the minute. Aleksander Baba-Vulic’s storm rushes toward an island harbor, and it feels as if nature’s power is leaping straight at us. In contrast, Mim Adkins lets us breathe in the ease of a summer evening settling down in Maine.
Our guest judge, Paula Tognarelli, executive director and curator of the
Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, Massachusetts, along with Yankee’s art director, Lori Pedrick, and photo editor, Heather Marcus, sifted through hundreds of reader images to select these three top choices.
“My New England” is expressed visually in so many different ways: perhaps in a portrait, or a moment caught on a bustling street, or a seascape at twilight. What connects every image we saw was New England’s hold on the imagination—its raw beauty, its sense of roots and tradition, its characters, even its sudden shifts of weather. It’s enough to make anyone want to walk around and start looking.
Editor Mel Allen 1st Place Winner | Mary Kocol Title: Snowing Again, Storm #4 Location: Somerville, MA. Judge’s comments: “This artist photographs the New England landscape from her roof deck in Somerville, Massachusetts. She does it with a bit of whimsy. In a winter of 10-foot snowdrifts, she captures the falling snow that makes this photograph so special. She uses the camera’s built-in flash, which fashions the flakes as large as snowballs and adds some magic to the capture.” Photo Credit : Mary Kocol 2nd Place Winner | Aleksandar Baba-Vulic Title: “Storm Over the Old Harbor Location: Block Island, RI Judge’s comments: “I am drawn to imagery that is crafted well, gives a fresh and original perspective and evokes narrative inquiry. The artist of “Storm Over the Old Harbor” gives the viewer all three. He uses composition to direct the central focus to the storm in a number of ways. The ship draws the viewer in, as if pointing towards danger. The cloud and its reflection, with the centralized white boat and mast form the eye of potential activity. The photograph itself is not cliché and leaves us to linger and imagine the meaning of the moment caught by the artist.” Photo Credit : Aleksandar Baba-Vulic 3rd Place Winner | Mim Adkins Title : Night Hammock Location: Boothbay Harbor, ME Judge’s comments: “This photograph captures a scene after everyone has eaten. The artist is left alone to experience a quiet—yet animated—moment in the woods. We experience the stillness as if we are there. “ Photo Credit : Mim Adkins Honorable Mentions Title: Puzzle Master Location: Little Deer Island, ME Judge’s comments: “The artist’s intent is one way we know the meaning of an art object. The viewer can provide meaning as well, based on personal context. Does this photograph evoke a memory, a feeling or an experience for you? It does for me. The lighting, the puzzle object, the lake as backdrop and the wood tone of the table stimulate a carefree feeling of warmth and memories of summers spent on vacation with my family.” Photo Credit : Alysia Macaulay Title: Train Man Location: Essex, CT Judge’s comments: “This image exemplifies how a photograph can tell a story without any words. The viewer is able to experience the scene either as witness or as subject. I like to exercise my imagination from both perspectives. Training myself to see the image fully helps me be more observant in looking at art and in the everyday.” Photo Credit : Ron Dylewski Title: Untitled, 2016 Location: Elmore, VT Judge’s comments: “While some would see this image as being more commercial art than fine-art, some images can straddle multiple genres. One could see this photograph as editorial, since it illustrates the story behind a baker’s business. The image also stands alone as an environmental portrait of a New England baker. The artist utilizes the figure and the bread dough to capture our focus. A room bathed in light, a limited palette, the motion of the flour and the color of the baker’s red shirt combine to keep the viewer’s attention on the meditative action of bread-making and to create a sensation as if it were a moving image.” Photo Credit : Andrew Janjigian. Title: Nubble Lighthouse in December Location: York, ME Judge’s comments: “Without the wreath on the red shed, this photograph would be just another Maine landscape image. The artist and the tenants of the property imbue a bit of levity into the scene as the green wreath, meant to greet the passing boat traffic, holds our attention and is meant to greet the passing boat traffic. The white picket fence, two other red roofs and the lighthouse keep our focus within the central cluster. We notice two other small wreaths deliberately placed to lead us down a path to the larger wreath. We enter and leave the photograph through the line of top-left clouds. The long shadows and holiday wreath tip us off that the photo is taken at end of day during early winter.” Photo Credit : Mary Kocol Title: The Field Location: Hebron, NH Judge’s comments: “This landscape photograph is at first unassuming. It engages the viewer with the limited palette of a crisp and clear New England day. Tire tracks draw us into the picture plane. Here begins the narrative intrigue. What questions are you asking?” Photo Credit : Michael Adams Title: Rolling In Location: Winnisquam Lake, NH Judge’s comments: ““Rolling In” is another unassuming photograph that provides us with just a few clues from which to determine a narrative: the title, a dock, a tree, a rock, tonality and fog. The atmosphere is the most blustery and active of characters. It takes center stage and seems to move across the picture plane, as in a Turner painting.” Photo Credit : Ron Dylewski Title: Summer Transportation Location: Androscoggin Lake, ME Judge’s comments: “This photograph depicts a summer scene, or perhaps a moment after summer has ended, as the boat is secured and covered. The sailboat indicates either human presence or an absent owner. The aqua, white, green and beige are a pleasing and serene palette. The reflection of the mast leads us in and out of the photograph. The water is calm and the angular clouds point to the anchored sailboat. The boat is set off-center, with the anchor as its period at the end of the sentence, stopping the boat from setting sail.” Photo Credit : Carly Rodgers Title: Olympia Diner, November 27, 1981 Location: Newington, CT Judge’s comments: “When we think of New England, we often think of colorful fall days. New England can be industrial and urban, as well as rural and scenic. New England includes six states that have varied cultures and landscapes. That is why I am drawn to this night photograph bathed in red-light reflections. This often-photographed landmark diner in Connecticut originally opened in Massachusetts and was moved to its present location in 1954. It is made of stainless steel and is the longest of its kind in the United States. It is a cross-country highway pit stop as well as a popular dining post for locals and those “in the know.”” Photo Credit : Larry Cultrera Title: Golden Rails Location: Gales Ferry, CT Judge’s comments: “This photo depicts the back roads of the Connecticut shoreline. If you’re a train traveler you may know the route, but not many have viewed the scene from land. Only the locals know this secret. Through the eyes of the artist, it is as if we are there walking the tracks with him. Each wooden railroad tie is a breath and a step forward. As we look ahead to the vanishing point on the horizon, the tracks bear right along the shore and approach the setting sun. The sun is the protagonist in this narrative, but the tools the artist uses to draw our gaze towards the end of day are as important as the sun itself.” Photo Credit : Brian Reubelt Title: Heavens Above. Location: Stage Harbor Lighthouse, Chatham, MA Judge’s comments: “Patience is a skill photographers must hone in order to seize the moments to be shared. Waiting for the sun to drop or for clouds to travel can make all the difference in a photograph. But the photographer must first be able to see potential in the everyday and visualize the outcome. Not all photographs are preplanned, however. Serendipity does exist and the photographer must recognize an opportunity and be able to technically respond before the mystery of the moment slips into oblivion.” Photo Credit : Silvana Della Camera. Title: Snow Location: Truro, MA Judge’s comments: “Weather is a constant in New England, from the coastline beaches to its mountain heights. Any photographer in search of landscape drama has to learn to withstand weather and the elements of heat and cold. The photographer who took this photograph stood on a windswept beach to capture weather in process. There is sleet on the lens and blurred imagery that suggests wind with snow. The palette contains muted blues and beiges that are turning towards gray. The geometry of the horizontal fencing mixes with the vertical lines of the signage, holding back entrance to the planes of sand, sea and sky despite the Coast Guard’s message that the “Water Quality is Acceptable.”” Photo Credit : Donna Tramontozzi Title: Early Color, Plum Island Location: Parker River Wildlife Refuge, Plum Island, MA Judge’s comments: “In “Early Color,” there are hints of color in the swaying grasses and in the sky, but the overall tonality of this photograph is more monotone, as if brushed with a watered-down pigment brush. It is difficult to distinguish sand from frost and ice, suggesting that winter still has a heavy grasp on the marsh. Cloud cover blankets the skyline, holding back the sun. A break in the clouds points to potential as if to say, “Soon, very soon.”” Photo Credit : Emily Corbato About Our Guest Judge: Paula Tognarelli is the executive director and curator of the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, Massachusetts. She has juried and curated exhibitions around the world and is on the advisory board of the New England School of Photography in Boston. griffinmuseum.org See previous photo contest results: 2015 “My New England” Photo Contest | Winners & Runners Up