Photographers place as semifinalists

Four Advanced Photography students have been named Spotlight Award semifinalists. Erik Haake ’08, Katie MacDonald ’08,  Annie McGrath ’08 and Nick Merrill ’09 were selected in the visual arts category, among applicants from various counties in Southern California.

The program, run by the Music Center for Performing Arts of Los Angeles County, is designated for high school students in categories of performing arts and visual arts, and includes cash prizes and various scholarship opportunities, according to the Music Center website.

Photography teacher Kevin O’Malley has taught McGrath, Haake and MacDonald for two years and Merrill for one. While MacDonald selected a slide from an early assignment in Advanced Photography III, the other nominees chose work they had completed outside of photography class.

McGrath, while in New York in early December, took a photo entitled “Snowglobe Effect.”

“It doesn’t really pour snow very often in New York nowadays, so it was kind of a rare moment to be walking through the park right at the start of what turned out to be a major blizzard,” she said.

McGrath found her nomination “exciting and surprising.”

Haake also used East Coast influences for his submission, taking his self-portrait at the Maine Media Workshops.

Haake, who has attended various photography classes and workshops outside of school, used an 8-by-10 inch view camera for his work, photographed himself in analog black and white and was humbled when informed of his nomination.

“It’s a great feeling when you know people like your work,” Haake said.

Merrill submitted a modernistic photo and presented a motif of diagonals and motion blurs. This is his first year in a photography class, but he has maintained photography as a hobby for a significant amount of time.

“The other pictures I brought in for the interview were some odds and ends that accentuated the same concepts or styles as the shot I submitted,” Merrill said.
O’Malley recommended all of his students to submit pieces for the competition.

“I gave them some advice on what people had done in the past and what I thought was their strongest work, but they all eventually picked the work they liked,” O’Malley said.

The work of the semifinalists will be displayed at the Bergamot Station gallery in Santa Monica later this month where the finalists will be announced.

“I like how the panel of professional judges interacts with all of the finalist students,” O’Malley said.

The semifinalists had interviews with judges at the Music Center on March 1 and presented their original work.

“My students always come back with interesting and inspiring stories from their interviews,” O’Malley said.

The grand prize winners will be announced in April at a ceremony at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.