LHS Students Participate in New York Photography Competition


Sophia Kaufman

A diptych photo piece created by senior Sophia Kaufman called “Mindless Aversions.” This was the second time Kaufman had images featured in the New York exhibit. “It felt really rewarding to have my photos in New York, but also weird that my art made it there before I did,” Kaufman said.

By Finn Lotton-Barker, Reporter

Photography is an incredibly important subject at Lawrence High. Every year, students work hard to create and showcase their work. But due to the pandemic this past year, LHS photography students have had an even more difficult process of presenting photos. 

Despite COVID-19, students from Photo II and Photo Portfolio classes had the opportunity to have their art showcased in New York through the 2021 Reel Exposure International Teen Film and Photography Festival.

The exhibition opened on April 7 and featured 22 pieces from eight LHS students.

 “This year the 2021 New York Photography and Film Competition looked very similar to the 2020 competition,” junior Audrey Basham said. “I have not had first-hand experience with the New York Contest outside of the pandemic times. Even in past years, it was crazy to see the amount of Lawrence High students that had work in past exhibitions.”

Students who participated in the competition had to make decisions about what photos to enter, explains senior Alice Lubin-Meyer.

 “Every time a photo portfolio enters a competition, we have to think hard about which pieces to enter to match the vibe and the criticism level of the particular competition,” she said. “For this New York competition we were told the work chosen would be avant-garde and experimental yet needed to still be cohesive and clean.” 

Senior Nora Walburn enjoyed the suspense of the contest results. 

“I’d say the most exciting thing is waiting for results,” Walburn said. “Usually after the tense few days of picking photos and getting everything in on time, the weight is lifted off your shoulders and you are able to relax again. Most of the time we have to wait a month or more to hear back, which adds a lot of fun suspense, especially if you end up getting anything accepted.”

Senior Tanner Ashenfelter’s piece, “Blame It on Me,” took second place in the main competition, announced on April 9. 

“’Blame It on Me’ is a black and white photograph featuring myself as the subject,” he said. “It was taken in the level one photo class. It shows that you can make great art even as a beginner, as long as you’re willing to make mistakes and try things in the moment. If you do this, your art has the ability to transform into something you never expected. I think others are drawn to my photo because it’s an intensely unique and provocative image with strong emotional, compositional, and technical elements. “

In the end, the competition provided a creative outlet for students that was important and rewarding. 

“The experience is valuable, even if you do get rejected you can take a step back and reflect on your work to see where you can improve,” Lubin-Myer said. “Every contest is different and judges all like different things.”