Steven Och made his selections and presented awards at the reception for the 2020 Viewfinder photo competition. He said, “I’m always excited to accept the challenge when invited to judge photography, to view the wonders of nature, the complexities of human emotions, and the places of the world captured through so many lenses. I appreciate seeing all of these and for the experience of seeing them through the eyes of others.

“I always make a conscious effort to ignore personal expectations or agendas so I may plunge into the entire pool at once. After a few hours of splashing around, the answers began to surface. After forty years of photography, I have a hunger to be surprised or in awe of simple things.”

He continued, “For most, it’s difficult to be objective and see beyond the subject matter when we look into to the laughing faces of our children or remember the ones we loved at a special time and place; likewise, when we are silenced by the beauty of nature or humbled by magnificent architecture. What else do we see?

“For me, a great photograph has to be more than technique, supporting backgrounds, appropriate focus, and creativity. Not only should we see the elements and principles of design dancing together, it should also tell a story, stir up ideas and emotions, and evoke curiosities for the viewer. It even includes the craftsmanship of its presentation. The images that are successful on many levels are the ones with the most flavor.”

Winners are:

Best of Show: Flamingo Shine by Paul Waschka

1st Place: Pear Leaves by Randy Harbour

2nd Place: Bubbles by Brianna Craig

3rd Place: Jasper Wild Flower by Taylor Thomas

Honorable Mentions:

Hallowed Ground by Ray Scott
The Wait by Abel Oliver
First Kiss by Scott Brown

Ochs added, “To say a few words about Paul Waschka’s Flamingo Shine; This is a crazy feast for the eyes and the mind! Nature, figures, objects and architecture are all swirled together in vivid colors where geometry melts in a fury. Up close, it is representational with intact sharp precision and at a distance, it is energetic abstract movement. See how many distortions you can identify as well as bizarre images evoked from your imagination.”

He concluded, “It was truly an honor to serve as your juror for the Viewfinder 2020 Photography Competition. This exhibit is a celebration of the artistic talent of our region. There are several other entries that are also my favorites but I invite all to visit and revisit this impressive exhibition at SAAC and judge for yourself.”