The Oneita Wagnon Senior Center had a photography contest for members of the center, and I was the judge. This would be a new experience for me, and I was flattered that they thought I would be a good person for the job. So I said yes.

Well. I had no idea what I was getting myself into! I arrived on August 26th to do the judging and found a small but nice number of prints entered in the contest. Shouldn’t be too hard, right? But I recognized people in those pictures and hated to not judge them all as deserving of a prize. And in each category, it came down to choosing between two or three potential winning images. Oh my!

I studied and agonized, changed my mind a few times, and finally, came up with the winners. I don’t know how the big boys do it, but I looked for the quality of the photograph itself and composition of the image. I also took into account if the picture was more of a snapshot or had a more artistic quality. Nothing wrong with snapshots, but the winners were supposed to be a cut above. But then I also considered a basic reaction that I suspect the big boys also rely on: which picture catches the eye first and continues to hold it.

I went back the next day to announce the winners. Left to right: Andrea Alfaro is standing in for the absent Lucy Posadas who had the winning entry in the Nature category. Gail Gladden won the Animal category, Marie Brown entered the winner in the Places category. Shirley White is holding her Best of Show. Debbie Black was the winner in the People category. Prizes were cash provided by the Senior Center.


Here are the winning entries up close, and I will tell you that my pictures of the pictures don’t quite do them justice. But that’s just the way it works.

In most art shows and other contests, like the Westminster Dog Show or stock shows and horse shows,  I know the Best of Show or Grand Champion is traditionally chosen from the winners in each competing category. This was a small show, and I felt like it was better to choose the Best of Show from all the pictures entered, and I thought my choice was a stand-out. The Sombrero entered by Shirley White was my choice based on composition, subject matter, quality of photography, and yes, it grabbed my attention.


The Places winner entered by Marie Brown met all my requirements. I will admit I forgot to ask where she took this picture, but it has a  nice quality to it.


The Animals category was hard, but I had to go with this little Corgi aspiring to be the next Reveille for Texas A&M University, pictured here at Kyle Field. The happy look of expectation on that little dog’s face says it all. And the composition of the picture is appropriate. Gail Gladden was the winner here.


The Nature winner was Lucy Posadas’ butterfly shot. Butterflies and moths are hard to capture on film; she did a good job, and it is bright and the image pops.


The People winner was this one from Debbie Black. The look passed between the bride and dad was perfect and fitting for this milestone in the lives.


Art and beauty are, of course, subjective and in the eye of the beholder. And it’s not as easy to pick winners as you might think. This was an interesting learning experience for me. Don’t know if I will ever be asked to do it again, but I now have a new respect and understanding for judges who do this all the time.

You should try it sometime!

Thank you, Carolyn Johnson, Andrea Alfaro, and Kaci Lee for help during the contest and  help with this story.