Talented Young Roaring Fork Photographers Wow Judges 
in Our Contest 8

Sonya Bensen, 15, Takes Top Honors

Congratulations to Sonya Benson of Aspen for winning our Roaring Fork 
Lifestyle youth photo contest. Judging from the judges’ comments, 15-year-old Benson knocked their socks off.

“When I opened Buck, I thought, ‘Oh, Wow!’ Photographically it is very well done, good exposure, looks sharp,” says Judy Hill Lovins. “I love the story it tells, the strong horizontal lines in thirds and the buck dead in the middle!”

Jane Bachrach agrees, “The placement of the young buck in the center works in this case, and I love the golden light. The dead naked branch on the right mimics not only the color of the deer, but also the shape of his antlers.”

“Normally my vision in a photo travels from left to right, but here my eyes go straight to the center, to the buck. For a few seconds I focus intently on the fine detail,” comments Bill Kight. “But next, I step back, not wanting to get run over, feeling that any second the buck will jump up (and even out!) of the frozen scene. Any art object that affects me like that is a winner for me.”

Cath Adams sums up the judges’ sentiments. “Sonya uses light, texture and composition in a very artful manner!”

Thanks to our Judges

Our judging panel included both professional photographers and judges with publishing backgrounds:

  • Cath Adams of Greg & Cath Photographers, Aspen, a professional wedding and environmental photographer with than 20 years experience. Cath is the originator of the If You Give a Kid Camera Workshops highlighted in our October issue.
  • Jane Bachrach, Cardondale, photographer and writer for the Sopris Sun since its founding in 2009.
  • Rick French, Glenwood Springs, publisher of Roaring Fork Lifestyle and owner DCD Home and DistinctlyLuxe, two image-based social multimedia websites.
  • Judy Hill Lovins, Old Snowmass, a photographic fine artist and art designer who specializes in bringing the natural world’s beauty into corporate work spaces.
  • Bill Kight, Public Affairs Officer for the White River National Forest and a published poet and author.

Upper Division Honors

While Sonya Bensen’s Buck captured the top spot in the Upper Division, Emma Chiles, 15, of Aspen, earned two honorable mentions for a photo of a seal and a photo of a woman sweeping a porch.

Junior Division Winner

Natalie Simecek, 14, of Blue Lake, charmed the judges with a photo of girls with umbrellas. Jane Bachrach comments, “I like the composition and the fact that the photo tells a story of three girlfriends taking a stroll down a cobblestone street in the rain. I like that the photographer included some of the brick sidewalk and part of the window box. If it weren’t for the American flag, I would have thought that this was shot somewhere in Europe.”

Bill Kight says, “Although I feel the scene seems contrived, it doesn’t matter to me. If staged, so what? It was fun. But I want to know more. Who are these people? Where are they going? What city? I was engaged and I like art that makes me smile.” In answer to Kight’s questions, Simecek took the photo during a school trip to Boston; the girls are all students from Basalt.

Madison Diaz, 12, of Marble earned an honorable mention for Snowy Street, and Jordan Wilensky, 12, of Glenwood Springs, merited an honorable mention for Grasses.

Elementary Division Honors

Michael Hjerleid, age 9, of Carbondale, won the youngest division with Hole to the Sky. Judy Hill Lovins comments, “Dynamic subject, love the striated clouds, composition has nice thirds with central pow! The clouds and the deep shadow give this image great motion. Good job.”

Two sisters from Aspen, Leila Baker, age 8, and Gemma Baker, age 9, each merited honorable mentions in the Elementary Division. Of Leila’s photo Shattered Glass, Jane Bachrach says, “Before I looked at the title of Leila’s photo, I couldn’t figure out how the photographer obtained that effect. The fact that she thought to shoot through shattered glass shows me that she has some imagination.”

Cath Adams praises Gemma’s Chicken at Rock Bottom Ranch. “I like how the “Rule of Thirds” and use of lines were accomplished. I am drawn to the chicken’s face, which is not centered in the frame…”

Many thanks to our judges and to the 22 talented photographers, ages 6 to 17, who entered our contest. Entries came from Aspen, Basalt, Blue Lake, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, Snowmass Village and Marble.