Photo shot during COVID stress-relieving nature tour captures prize

By: Jacob Herbert | Southfield Sun | Published October 21, 2020

 Amaiya Wright, right, and Gabrielle McNutt post for a photo under a teepee made of sticks at Bauervic Woods Park in Southfield. With over 350 votes, the photo was selected as the city’s 2020 Photo Prize winner.

Amaiya Wright, right, and Gabrielle McNutt post for a photo under a teepee made of sticks at Bauervic Woods Park in Southfield. With over 350 votes, the photo was selected as the city’s 2020 Photo Prize winner.

Photo by Timothy McNutt

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SOUTHFIELD — Timothy McNutt has lived in Southfield for 20 years, and despite two decades in the city, there were still areas left undiscovered. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, McNutt was laid off from his job, and his kids were put into online schooling.

Needing time to decompress from the stresses of 2020, McNutt and his daughters, Amaiya and Gabrielle, took walks around through different parks and trails.

Their expeditions eventually led them to Bauervic Woods Park, where McNutt would snap the photo that would win the 2020 Southfield Photo Prize.

“I was kinda shocked,” McNutt said. “After they called third place, we knew we were either first or second. My oldest daughter didn’t think we would win it, but she was very excited when she found out we did.”

After taking the photo, McNutt submitted it to the Parks and Recreation Department in Southfield. The department sent him a message back asking if he wanted to submit it for the photo contest.

McNutt’s photo and nearly 200 others were submitted to the Southfield Total Living Commission, which was tasked with narrowing that 200 down to 25 finalists to be voted on by the public. Voting was done online at the city’s website from July 10 to Aug. 31.

The results were determined by whichever finalist received the most online votes. McNutt was first with over 350 votes. Ronald Taylor took second place for his photo taken at the American Commerce Centre Nature Preserve, and James Simpson placed third for his photo of a double rainbow over the Southfield skyline.

For winning the contest, McNutt received a gift certificate and a bag of Southfield swag.

The winning photo and finalists will be featured in Southfield’s 2021 calendar, and each finalist received their enlarged photos to keep.

“I like the photo because it was a different time,” McNutt said. “Hopefully, when COVID goes away and everything is back to normal, (the photo) would be like a reminder of something positive that happened during that time.”

The idea for the annual photo contest was submitted to the Total Living Commission by Kyra Harris Bolden, who would become the program chair for the event. Bolden said the idea was inspired by the Grand Rapids Art Prize. She thought it would be a good way to bring members of the community together in Southfield.

“I think people, maybe even in the community, ... think of Southfield as a bustling urban commercial type of district,” Bolden said on the benefits of the contest. “But we have tons and tons of wildlife and nature preserves. People don’t realize the beauty of the nature that we see.”

When the commission had its inaugural contest four years ago, there were roughly 80 submissions. The number of submissions and votes and the quality of the photos have been growing ever since. More and more people ditched cellphone cameras and traded them in for digital single-lens reflex cameras, or DSLR, made famous by companies like Nikon and Canon.

Southfield Mayor Ken Siver said the submissions the commission received this year were from people who were “pretty serious about photography.”

The excitement surrounding the project is only going to increase as the years pass, which can only mean positive things for the city of Southfield.

“It certainly shows community pride, and I think it just enriches our community,” Siver said. “It’s another thing that gets people to appreciate the natural beauty and the architecture of Southfield.”

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