Woodward, Okla. —
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. For artist Patrick Riley a good photograph is worth a whole story.
Riley, a retired art instructor and current artist in residence with the Oklahoma Arts Council, was the judge for the 2013 Photo Contest at the Plains Indians and Pioneers Museum.
In making his selections for the award winners from the over 340 photographs entered in this year's contest, Riley said he judged each image on a variety of factors.
But "first I like to look for something that impacts the viewer," Riley said. "I look for something of interest; what kind of story does it tell?"
He said he also looks at the "quality of the design."
"Does it follow the principals of good design such as contrast or repetition?" he said.
But he said he doesn't focus too much on the technical aspects, preferring instead the creative aspects of the artwork.
"I'm an artist so I don't get too scientific about a photograph, I look at the aesthetics," he said.
When it came to selecting the Best of Show winner for this year's photography contest, Riley said the portrait of a boy titled "Q" by Skip Braun had everything he was looking for.
"It just meets all my criteria of a superb photograph," Riley said.
"First, it's a very clear photograph. You notice how specific it is as you see all the freckles on his face," he said. "But then his chin is cut off (out of the frame) and so is the top of his head, which gives it a creative feel. Then the background is blurred out, but it's yellow and green which provides a nice contrast to the brown of his hair."
All of this gives the photograph a high quality of design, he said.
But it was the subject's blue eyes that really captured him.
"These eyes speak to me as a force of energy with this photograph," Riley said. "There's a story in this photograph; I would love to write a story about this boy."
THEME WINNER ALSO PORTRAYS HUMAN FORM
Choosing the theme award winner for this year's show was a bit tougher for Riley.
"It was a very tough category to judge," he said of the theme photographs.
Partly because the theme "Oops! But I like it." was "very subjective," he said.
In the end, Riley said he had to choose the winner based on what he personally liked.
"I'm very much an artist that enjoys the human form," he said.
He explained that since humans have souls, he believes that art which depicts the human form has "a feeling of soulfulness."
It is because of this that he chose a portrait to win Best of Show and also why he selected an image of 2 boys competing in a wrestling match as the theme award winner.
Riley explained why he felt this image titled "It's All A Blur" by Kirsten Gallon deserved to win the theme award.
"The wrestling photo is blurry but it is also realistic," he said. "It appears like a legitimate oops, that it was unconsciously done, that they didn't plan it, and at the same time I like it."
Also outside of the portraits, Riley said "there are really no human forms included very much in the show, so I thought the wrestling image would be a good addition overall to the show as an award winner."
Furthermore, the judge said the image had a personal impact on him as he "used to coach wrestling."
JUDGE'S MESSAGE TO PARTICIPANTS
Out of a total of 344 contest entries, Museum Director Robert Roberson said that 134 photos, including the winners, were selected to be displayed in a 2-month exhibit at the museum.
The photo contest exhibit will officially open to the public this Saturday, Sept. 7 and will continue through Oct. 26.
An awards ceremony for the winners and a reception for all contestants will then be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 26 to conclude the show.
Riley said he wouldn't be able to attend the reception, but had some words of encouragement that he wanted to share with all the photographers who entered the contest.
"I would tell them I wouldn't feel bad if you weren't selected because the quality of what you do is very high, I feel the whole show is very high quality," he said.
In fact, it was because there were so many "very, very good photographs" that Riley said it was "very tough to judge the winners"
"The quality of the photographs are such that it was hard to make a decision after I'd chosen the top 10 or so. That's because a lot of the photographs are so similar in quality," he said. "I'm just really impressed with the quality of the show overall."
Scenic - 1st, "Boots on a Fence" by Kirsten Gallon; 2nd, "Old Car in Winter" by Vi Thomas; 3rd, "Ancient Art" by Sue Selman
Landscape - 1st, "Ocotillo Sunrise" by Sarah Harless; 2nd, Untitled by Brandi Dial; 3rd, "Fall Colors" by Teresa James
Portraits - 1st, "Q" by Skip Braun; 2nd, "Perfection" by Shawna Adams; 3rd, "Princess Emily" by Donna Lewis
Still Life - 1st, "Red" by Cindy Charboneau; 2nd, "Gummy Display" by Kirsten Gallon; 3rd, "Rusty Faucet" by Tracy Miller
Floral - 1st, "Sunflower Macro" by Teresa James; 2nd, "Sunrise Mimosa Hibiscus" by Chester Weems; 3rd, "Prickle Pear in Bloom" by Vi Thomas
Animal - 1st, "Sneaking a Kiss," by Tad Eike; 2nd, "Buffalo Grazing, Wichita" by Susan Johnson; 3rd, "Two of a Kind" by Cindy Charboneau
Insect - 1st, "Said the Spider to the Fly" by Ruth Whitten; 2nd, Untitled by Kassie Poromley; 3rd, Untitled by Donna Lewis
Black & White - 1st, Untitled by Richard Even; 2nd, "Lil Angel" by Skip Braun; 3rd, "Blue Bonnet" by Sarah Harless
Theme - "It's All a Blur" by Kirsten Gallon
Best of Show - "Q" by Skip Braun