Teen photo challenge captures the beauty of winter

By: Mary Genson | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published January 26, 2022

 Teens are encouraged to channel their creativity and compete in the Baldwin Public Library’s first Teen Winter Photography Contest.

Teens are encouraged to channel their creativity and compete in the Baldwin Public Library’s first Teen Winter Photography Contest.

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BIRMINGHAM — Teens are encouraged to channel their creativity and compete in the Baldwin Public Library’s first Teen Winter Photography Contest. Submissions will be accepted Feb.1-28 for teens in middle and high school. 

Applicants do not have to have any prior experience in photography to submit work. Grades 6-8 and 9-12 will be divided into separate age groups, and a winner will be chosen from each group in early March. 

Teen Librarian Elisabeth Phou said “it’s definitely open to any level of photography, even if you’ve never taken a picture before.”

The library has had to cut back on the usual in-person program this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. Phou said she has missed the regular interaction she used to be able to have with the community in person. The Teen Winter Photography Contest is a way for the library to safely engage with teens in the community. 

“It’s good for their mental health to get outside and take some pictures, and it’s also good for me, because I’m just so used to having so much teen interaction with my in-person programs,” Phou said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how many teens want to participate in this challenge.”

Each participant is only allowed one entry into the contest, but they have the creative freedom of what they photograph. As long as the image relates to winter, the photo can be taken inside or outside. The library only asks that the submissions do not include people’s faces. 

“I think the main goal is to just find some beauty in winter, because I know I’m not the only person that gets sick and tired of winter in February when it’s gray and cold outside,” Phou said. 

As teens think about what they are going to photograph, they can think about what they find beautiful in the winter and explore the outdoors. 

“You don’t have to be a fancy photographer,” Associate Library Director Jaclyn Miller said. “Just snap a picture of something that you think is beautiful. I am really excited to see what that means to people. I, myself, am not a huge fan of winter. So I will be happy to see what people find to be happy about in this season that is just kind of cold and gray.”

It is not necessary to go out and buy an expensive camera to submit to this contest. Photos can be taken with any kind of camera, including a phone camera. 

The winner from each age group will receive a prize of a disposable camera and a giftcard to Woodward Camera. This way they can continue with photography and get their photos developed at Woodward Camera when they are ready. 

Phou consulted with the Teen Advisory Board about what they think the prize should be. She said they thought a disposable camera would be an exciting prize, since they have come back in style. 

Miller said the library is always looking for ways to engage teens in their programming. They understand that teens are an age group that are particularly busy and have a lot of things they are working on. However, Miller said she still wants them to feel like they are part of the library.

“We want to encourage them to participate in whatever way they feel comfortable, and if that is through an artistic way, like photography, all the better,’’ Miller said. 

More information on the Teen Winter Photography Contest will be updated at www.baldwin lib.org/teen. 

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