My 10-year old twin granddaughters, their mother, Kate, and I were standing with my wife, Paula, waiting for awards to be announced at the Frederick Photography Club’s 33rd Annual Juried Competition in the Art Center of Frederick Community College.
My granddaughters had quickly found their Mimi’s abstract photograph (Winter Dream), jumped up and down, glanced at the other 66 photos, found the snack table, and decided walking around outside in 100 degrees was more fun. I’m not 10, so I had to stay inside.
I checked my watch. One hour to go.
We had reservations for 6:30 at The Orchard, one of Frederick’s finest restaurants. I figured if I’m driving all the way to Frederick on a hot Saturday afternoon, I need a reason other than peering at photographs, even if one of them is my wife’s.
We planned to leave the exhibit at 6:00.
I took note of my wife’s photo and then made a round of the various halls and rooms appraising each of the other 66. I looked at my watch. Forty-five minutes to go.
I made another round just in case I had missed something. I hadn’t.
Thirty minutes to go. I sat down and began appraising these peculiar people pondering photographs. People at an exhibition. Fascinating. I lost myself in the moment.
The twins found me.
Hey, Grandy. It’s time to go!
Indeed. At last. We started for the door.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are now going to announce the winners.
We stopped in our tracks.
None of us expected our Paula to be a winner. After all, her work was up against 66 others selected from 449 entries from photographers far more experienced.
We could have left. But out of respect, we stayed.
And the second “Honorable Mention” goes to Paula Tremba.
We nearly jumped through the ceiling. But we’re too cool for that. So we just smiled and applauded like bored royalty, as if this were just another day at another photography competition.
Paula is new to photography. She studies, practices, and experiments constantly. What if I use this camera, that filter, this lens, or that lighting? What if I stand over there or kneel here?
She doesn’t think she’s grasped nearly all there is to it. What she’d like to become is beyond her reach and may always be. Still she keeps practicing, which, I suppose, is also the path to becoming our full human selves.