WESTFIELD – Local and regional novice and professional photographers are invited to capture images that reflect the beauty, vitality, and artistry of the downtown area for a Downtown Westfield Photo Challenge, sponsored by ArtWorks Westfield.
“Our goal is that this challenge garners excitement and draws a lot of creative and talented photographers,” said Andrea York of Andrea York Photography, LLC. York is one of the committee members involved with the project that runs through Oct. 30.
Submissions must be captured during the contest period (Aug. 1-Oct. 30, 2021) in one of three categories: people, place, things. Additionally, all photographs must be within the geographical area identified as downtown Westfield by the contest organizers. There is no entry fee to participate in the contest.
The ArtWorks Westfield team first developed the idea and applied for a grant from the Westfield Cultural Council in the fall of 2019.
“The grant was approved in early 2020 but the uncertainty and fluidity of the COVID-19 situation forced us to postpone the project, take a 12-month pause, and launch a year later in 2021,” said Bill Westerlind, president, ArtWorks Westfield. “Recognizing the challenges all cultural organizations faced executing grant-supported activities and events in 2020, the Westfield Cultural Council allowed an extension of the grant into 2021.”
Westerlind noted that since the beginning of the project’s concept, the focus on downtown Westfield reflects the mission of ArtWorks Westfield to bring together creators (artists of all mediums) and community members in cultural and educational experiences in the heart of the city, which in turn supports the small businesses in and adjacent to the Gaslight District.
“The culmination of the contest on Small Business Saturday in downtown Westfield further reflects our commitment to creators, community and the many small business supporters of the arts and culture in our city,” he said.
York shared a similar sentiment.
“This committee is the perfect example of ‘art binds,’” said York. “We have met weekly to brainstorm and craft this photo challenge. Every individual has brought their unique talent to the table and as a team we get stuff done.”
Committee members joining York in the endeavor include Jessica Beaupre, Fox Eye Photography, Wendy McCann, Wendy McCann Photo, Marc St. Onge, Saintongephoto, and Bill Curran, Bill Curran Photography. Additionally, Edgardo Sanchez, owner of San-Man Graphics at Bismarck Place, created the logo and marketing graphics for the contest.
“From a photographer’s point of view, participating in the photo challenge will give entrants a chance to see their work as a large print and not just a tiny image on their cell phone,” said St. Onge. “A printed and framed photograph has a ‘real-ness,’ an authority that the instantly forgettable cell phone or computer image lacks. Physical prints have an emotional impact that will add weight to the subject chosen.”
Submissions will be on display in pop up galleries in shops and businesses in downtown Westfield throughout November.
“On Small Business Saturday, Nov. 27, the public is invited and encouraged to view the images, explore downtown Westfield, and experience the locations where the images were captured,” said Westerlind, adding that local photographers will be on hand Nov. 27 to meet the public and discuss the process involved in capturing that perfect image.
Winners will be determined by Nov. 6 by a panel of independent judges, noted Westerlind, adding that winning images will be announced on Small Business Saturday.
Images must be 11×14 inches in size (image size) and submitted in a ready-to-hang frame for display in one of the many pop up galleries planned in downtown Westfield. There are three entry drop off dates planned: Aug. 31, Sept. 30, and Oct. 30 – all from 4-7 p.m. at Bismarck Place next to Pilgrim Candle, 16 Union Ave.
“From photography newbies and hobbyists to seasoned professionals, this contest allows anyone and everyone to participate,” said Westerlind. “Since the use of extensive editing and enhancements of the image is prohibited, imagery in this contest will be driven by the photographer’s ability to capture people, places or things in the downtown area using natural light and an eye for that perfect shot that inspires an emotional reaction.”
“This is a fun, creatively challenging competition,” said York, noting there are three chances to enter and four ways to win. “There will also be a People’s Choice Award, voted on by the exhibit-goers on Small Business Saturday.”
For details on rules and regulations, prizes, and the map of the downtown area for the challenge, visit https://bit.ly/DowntownWestfieldPhotoChallenge.
“Now, more than ever, in this chaotic post-pandemic climate, cities and towns are scrambling to reconnect communities and revitalize downtown areas,” said York. “Executed well, grants, such as this one that the Westfield Cultural Council graciously awarded to our beloved city, will serve to bring the community back together.”