Monday, July 25, 2011

Fair photo competitions

The last few years, my daughter and I have taken part in the photography competitions at the Nebraska State Fair.  For those of you amateur photographers whom have never taken part in such a contest, I highly recommend it.  It's a fun experience, especially if you don't have much experience printing and displaying your images.

With the Nebraska State Fair moving from our home in Lincoln out to Grand Island (beyond where we were willing to drive to see our photos displayed), we opted this year to enter our photos in the Lancaster County Fair instead.  As our county fair is run by the same lady that oversees the state fair, the rules are similar.  However, it's a smaller operation (about 600 entries, compared to 2000 in the state fair).  Entries are divided into a few dozen topical categories, including several for kids 10 and under and several more for kids 11-17 years old.

Preparation isn't difficult.  Most classes require photos with minimal postprocessing, printed at approximately 8x10" and mounted on 11x14" foam core.  They get judged anonymously before the fair starts, and then displayed for several days during the fair.

It's fun to hear from friends who have seen your photos on display, and it's even more fun if something wins a ribbon.  The hard part can be remembering that the judging is merely the opinion of three individuals, so you shouldn't take it personally if a really lame (in your opinion) photo gets a ribbon while your awesome shot doesn't.  Just have fun with it and enjoy the experience.

The past two years, I've submitted about 15-20 photos each year, of which about half have won a ribbon of some sort.  The following won first place in their class:

I Love You (2009: Domestic growing flowers, multiple blossoms)
Michael Tait (2010: B&W Grand Affair - photos from previous fairs)
Stingray (2010: B&W Mechanical)

My daughter Noelle (7 & 8 years old at the time) has won third place ribbons in the youth division for these three photos:
Behind the Falls (2009: Youth 10 & under: people)
Platte River Sunset (2010: Youth 10 & under: scenics)
Feeding Frenzy (2010: Youth 10 & under: animals)

Prepping 20 photos is more work than you'd expect, so we're scaling back this year and only submitting the following five shots between us:
Windmill at Sunset (Youth 10 & under: other objects)
Gateway Arch (Youth 10 & under: scenics)
Morning Explorer (Wild animals)
Merry Christmas (Color still life)
Dance! (B&W still life)

It's interesting to note that 6 of the 12 photos on this page (the title shot, two of the blue ribbon shots, and three of this year's submissions) were taken with old, manual focus lenses.

The Lancaster County Fair runs 4-13 August 2011, with the photography entries on display from 9-14 August.  You've still got until 10 August to enter the Nebraska State Fair if you'd prefer.

In case you can't tell, I've been crazy busy the last few weeks, and haven't had time to put together properly illustrated blog entries.  This post is mostly just a stop gap so you know I'm not dead.  I'm terribly sorry for that (being busy, not being alive), and hope to remedy the situation soon.


  1. Well, the results are in, and my daughter took home more hardware than I did. She's quite tickled with herself.

    Noelle won second place for each of her two photos above (windmill & arch).

    I won second place for my fox photo as well as a people's choice award for my B&W frost photo. My color frost photo came home empty handed.

    Each of the second place ribbons came with a lucrative $4 cash prize.

  2. Here's my daughter pointing out her prize-winning entries when we visited the fair ourselves:

    Proud little girl

  3. In 2012, Noelle & I each entered only a single photo to the Lancaster County Fair. I submitted my only photo on a whim, having taken the shot just two days before the registration deadline. It brought home a blue ribbon. You can read about that photo shoot in another post:


Please leave your comment below. Comments are moderated, so don't be alarmed if your note doesn't appear immediately. Also, please don't use my blog to advertise your own web site unless it's related to the discussion at hand.