KINGSPORT — Dr. Michelle Harless takes many public relations photos of students for the Hawkins County School System, but her best work to date features a trio of hairy youngsters playing hooky.
Harless was among several photographers to take home blue ribbons at Sunday’s 17th Kingsport Spring Spectacular Photo Contest and Exhibition reception at the Kingsport Renaissance Center.
She was also one of only two photographers to win multiple blue ribbons, with both shots featuring baby bears that she discovered at Cade’s Cove in the Smoky Mountain National Park. The baby bears were shot with a zoom lens so as not to get too close and upset momma bear.
Harless won the Proficient Carrie Penley Special Theme category with “Playtime Trio,” and she won the Proficient Nature Color category with “Little Bear in Big Tree” — but she didn’t realize when she took the shots that her baby bears were winners.
“I was just amazed to see the three little bears playing, and I just loved to watch them,” Harless said. “Usually I receive honorable mentions. This is the first time to receive a blue ribbon, so I’m happy.”
The only other multiple blue ribbon winner was veteran photographer Terri Campbell, who also won one of the two main awards — the Proficient Nature Color and overall BlueRidge Appalachian Region categories with “Tumblin’ Creek.”
Campbell also won the blue ribbon in the Proficient Pictorial Color category with “Yellowstone Prong by the Cresent Moon — Her Version” and the Proficient/Amateur Nature Monochrome category with “On the Underside (Schoolhouse Falls).”
The top award went to Charles Edwards, who won the Proficient Pictorial Monochrome and Best in Show categories with “Well Groomed.”
Organizer Ann Fortney said this year’s contest featured 93 photographers who entered 459 photographs, and 58 of those were new participants.
The exhibition will remain on display at the Kingsport Renaissance Center in the main and atrium galleries until Wednesday, June 26.
There’s still a People's Choice award to be determined, and you can vote on your favorite at the exhibition until Sunday, June 16 at 3 p.m.
Ribbons and cash were awarded to the top three in each category.
All ribbon winners will be posted this week on the 17th Kingsport Spring Spectacular Photo Contest and Exhibition’s Facebook page.
Other Blue Ribbon winners include:
* Bob Soyars won the Amateur Pictorial Monochrome category with “Elderly UT Fan.”
* John H. Barrett Jr. won the Amateur Carrie Penley Special Theme category with “Searching Sand.”
* Owen Hoover won the Youth category with “Sister.”
* John Hill won the Amateur Pictorial Color category with “Amsterdam Canal.”
* Debbie Edmonds won the Amateur Nature Color category with “Proud.”