“We have a very talented group of citizens in this region and the photography shows that,” Fortney said. “I created, organize and run this event so I don’t have to be a judge. I don’t envy their job at all. It is very hard sometimes. It’s not unusual to have tiebreakers in every category.”
Seventy-three entrants from Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky submitted a total of 374 photos in this year’s 11th annual competition, which will hang Sept. 3-28 at the Downtown Kingsport Association Foundation’s Main Art Center.
The exhibition will be open to the public each Saturday in September. Additional opening hours will be posted on the event’s Facebook page. Admission is free.
Youth-, amateur- and proficient-level photographers were invited to submit their color or black-and-white photographs in any of three categories: Nature, Pictorial and the new Carrie Penley Themed category, named in memory of Fortney’s late mother.
“My mother liked photo scavenger hunts so when we talked about doing a special theme, we decided that we would change the theme each year,” Fortney said. “This sort of hits on the scavenger hunt idea. Each year a theme will be announced and the participants will go hunting photos containing that theme. This year’s theme was ‘Up, Up and Away.’ Next Year’s theme will be ‘Motherly Love’ in honor of my mother Carrie Penley, who was a big supporter of mine and this event.”
Judging this year’s contest were David Floyd, Lester Duncan, Jeff Stoner, Ray Austin and Jack Scofield.
Jim Rigsby’s photo “Dark Hedges” was awarded Best of Show.
Belinda Bridwell won this year’s “Jerry Penley I Love the Blue Ridge/Appalachian Region” award for her photo “Cherokee Autumn.”
In the Carrie Penley Theme category, Tracy Harris took home top honors for “Curious Bird.” Second- and third-place honors went to Frank Renault and Doris Hurley, respectively.
Madison Arnold won first place in the youth category for her photo “Peace Be Still.” Second place went to Abbey Mullins, and the third-place winner was Logan Venable.
In the amateur pictorial color category, Tracy Harris took home both first and third place for “Foggy Barn” and “Buttercup Barn,” respectively. Second place was awarded to Wayne Walker for his photo titled “1928 Peerless Hood Ornament.”
Debbie Dillard’s photo “You Looking at Me” won first place in the amateur nature color category. Donna Stewart took home second and third places for “Happy Hour” and “Journey.”
Winners in the amateur pictorial black and white category were Deborah Ramey, Chris Calton and Jon Grim.
Fred Martin swept the amateur/proficient nature black and white category, winning first, second and third for his photos “Bloodroot,” “The Waves Roll” and “Leaves,” respectively.
Martin also placed first in the proficient nature color category for his photo titled “Hungry Owl.” Jim Rigsby and Belinda Bridwell won second and third.
In the proficient pictorial black and white category, Matt Barr won first place for his photo “Dio De Los Muertos.” Gwen Paton placed second, and Fred Martin picked up another third-place finish for “Fire!”
Jim Rigsby took home first and third place in the proficient pictorial color category, with Belinda Bridwell placing second with her photo “End of the Road.”
More than 100 honorable mentions were also awarded.
“Everyone who enters is a winner to me,” Fortney said. “They go out, take their photos and get them ready to enter. When I hang the photos for the exhibit, it’s not just the winners or those who received honorable mentions. I have 374 photos entered this year and every one of those photos will be hung. The people who entered them will be able to come see their photos on the walls, and have that pride and bragging rights they deserve. ... What’s the use of entering if you don’t get to see your photos in the exhibit?”
Those who visit the exhibit are encouraged to cast their vote for the show’s People’s Choice Award, which will be presented after voting closes at 3 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 21.
“People should come out to see the exhibit because we have a multitude of talent in the region, and who knows? Once you see the exhibit and the photographs you may say, ‘I want to do that too’ or ‘I can do that.’ You may recognize a location in a photograph and want to take a day trip there,” Fortney said. “It’s a free event, family oriented, fun and interesting, and if you come to see the exhibit you have a chance to be a judge and vote for your favorite photograph.”