I was invited earlier this year to judge at my first 4-H fair in 2023.
I’m headed southeast to Keokuk County to judge photography at the 2023 Keokuk County Expo in Sigourney on July 10. This will be my third time judging at that fair. The first time was in 2019, when I judged photos and creative arts. I returned in 2020, this time judging entries without the 4-H’ers due to Covid-19.
I enjoy judging 4-H photography and hope to have the chance to judge at one or two more fairs this year.
I have judged 4-H photography in 11 different counties including Linn (Central City), Johnson (Iowa City), Washington (Washington), Keokuk County (Sigourney), Mahaska (Oskaloosa), Davis (Bloomfield), Poweshiek (Grinnell), Iowa (Marengo), Benton (Vinton), Warren (Indianola) and Marion (Knoxville) counties.
I started judging in 2012 thanks to the encouragement of Cathy Lents at the Poweshiek County Extension Office. I took a judging course through Iowa State University Extension in November 2011.
I have judged at county fairs every year outside of 2014. I judged at the Iowa State Fair in 2019. That was a different experience. At county fairs, I get to talk with the 4-H’ers. At the state fair, it is just me and the photo. That is a bit more challenging as I had to write down my thoughts on a forum given back to the 4-H’er. I would much rather talk with the 4-H’er in person.
I have also held several 4-H photography workshops and also offered photo editing to help young people get ready for the county fair. I am always willing to help young people with their photography and 4-H projects. I don’t know it all, but I am willing to share what do know. Send me a message on Facebook and I will try and help.
I have also judged open class photos at Poweshiek County for about 8 years and also in Iowa County a couple times.
The Missouri Photo Workshop
In 2003, I was able to participate in the Missouri Photo Workshop in Louisiana, Mo. The workshop, which is sponsored by the University of Missouri-Columbia, brings upwards to 40 photographers with all skill levels to a small Missouri town each year. The goal for each photographer is to find a subject and then a vehicle (subject) to tell the story.
The workshop was founded in 1949 by the now late Clifton C. Edom, who taught photography at the MU School of Journalism. Edom was inspired by the gritty, content-rich photographs of the documentary photo unit of the pre-WWII Farm Security Administration (FSA). FSA director Roy Stryker and photographer Russell Lee worked closely with Edom in the creation of the workshop and served as faculty members during its early years.
The workshop features judges from the National Geographic to major newspapers and magazines across the nation. I had two judges. One was with Sunset magazine in Oregon and the other judge was a long-time photographer and editor with the Louisville Courier newspapers in Kentucky.
My focus was on community service and my subject was one of the Louisiana Police Department officers whose beat was the public schools. I rode in the police cruiser and took photos in the schools as the officer dealt with issues needing the attention of a law official. I got to know the officer quite well in the process. My photo story won the Spirit of the Workshop Award.
At the end of the week, town residents are invited to a community showing of all the photographer’s work. It was a great experience and was made possible thanks to scholarship. If you would like to learn more about the workshop, visit https://missouriphotoworkshop.org.
No matter what your talent or skill level is, I want to encourage you to get involved and help make life better for others. Sometimes the small things you do in life make the biggest difference. And if there is something you want to do or participate in, take a step and apply. Doors of opportunity are always swinging open.
Have a great week and always remember that “Good Things are Happening,” every day and always.
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