In early May I received a Facebook invitation to The Picture Show, the University of Texas Chapter of the National Press Photographers Association (UT NPPA) third annual spring show. It was scheduled on the same evening that Betty White was to host Saturday Night Live. Even though I live in San Antonio and the exhibit was in Austin I was pretty confident I could get back with plenty of time to catch SNL as long as I left there by nineish. But I was still there at 10:20 pm. Volunteers had started cleaning up, picking up the abandoned cups, taking out the trash, making plans for the rest of their evening, when I finally pulled out of the Midtown Commonsâ€™ parking lot. The apartment complex had donated their empty live/work spaces for the exhibition.
Sorry Betty White, but I just couldnâ€™t tear myself away from the celebration of the young photojournalists and their finest work. Their enthusiasm for their work well done saturated the air and I was inhaling it all in as memories of my college years came flooding back. Their energy was so contagious that an hour visit turned into two and half.
This was a special year for the student group as it was the first time the exhibit was juried. L.A. Reno, co-president of the student chapter, said they decided on a juried exhibit for the studentâ€™s spring presentation because they wanted to â€œramp up their credibility, up the caliber.â€
The judges were Donna DeCesare, Marianne Fulton and Lesley Nowlin who noted in their judge’s statement that, â€œThe value of a juried exhibition is the professional selection process. This carries weight on a resume when the integrity of the process is maintained.â€
Reno said that this exhibit was not a random collection of pictures as in previous years but the exhibit came with a vision — that of DeCesareâ€™s, Fultonâ€™s and Nowlinâ€™s. The judges noted that the entries were judged on their compositional, emotional and narrative qualities, fresh approaches, while avoiding visual clichÃ©s. They particularly valued the images that made them feel a genuine connection.
Tara Haelle, secretary of the UT student chapter said out of more than 200 images that were entered, 22 were chosen. Thomas Hackett, a doctorate candidate in American Studies at UT, received Best in Show for his striking black and white portrait of a woman who confronts the viewer with a lit cigarette dangling from her mouth.
by Anita Baca