jackson county fair

County Fair Famous

County Fair Famous

My family took a trip to the Jackson County Fair a few weeks ago, as we do every year. It’s something we look forward to each year: the food, the animals, the people watching. All the lights and sounds and colors make for great photo opportunities. It’s a lot of fun.

Each year, in the 4H pavilion, the fair hosts contests – everything from antiques to crops to artwork. Last year, I entered some photos for the first time, and did pretty well. This year, I opted not to, just because the deadline passed and I had other things going on.

Looking through all the entries this year, it struck me: There were a ton of great photos, and I hadn’t heard of any of the photographers.

As much as we may follow other photographers that we like, and check out exhibitions of nationally-known artists, there’s a ton of great work being made right in your own community, by people you’ve never met. You may work with one of these folks. Or they may make you coffee. Or they pick up your trash.

They work just as hard as you do, find great scenery like you do, struggle with creativity and energy just like you, and wonder about getting their work seen – as we all do. They’re all out there hustling, trying to find their photographic voice, and entering a little county fair competition to get some confirmation of their vision.

We struggle so much with marketing, and self promotion, and creative struggles. Meanwhile, our neighbors are out there making stuff, and entering it into a competition to earn a few bucks and a ribbon.

Maybe they have something to teach you (or vice versa). Maybe you should look them up and go make something together.

Top Prize

Jackson County Fair - Top Prize

Booya. Not only first place in the “Michigan Lighthouse” category, but top prize for color photos overall at the Jackson County Fair photo contest.

Hand In Hand” has certainly been a crowd pleaser, earning both Radar recognition on Tumblr, and an Explore nod from Flickr.

Thanks very much to the judges. Honored to earn that purple ribbon at my first fair competition.

I’m slowly creeping into the “show more of my work in public” zone. This fair photo competition was my first bit of outreach, besides a few local shows here and there. There are lots of local artists who have done shows, exhibits, and contests, and I’m starting to chat with them about how they go about it, and what advice they have for someone like me.

The fair’s competition was tough. The list of rules and regulations was about three pages long, and I had a mix up picking up my prints after the fair was over. I don’t think I’ll go hog wild (10 photos) like I did this year. Maybe next year I’ll pick one or two that I think will do well.

Printing the photos, preparing the photos, delivering the photos – this competition, like many exhibits and shows, took a lot of work. And treasure. Something to add to the “now I know” list.

Here’s to showing your work in public.