Camera club honors photos with ‘wow’ factor in annual awards

Madison Fantozzi

Memorable Images published in Miami Herald’s Southeast Neighbors on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013.

Jorge Zamanillo photographed a little girl peering from a bus window in Havana using a Nikon camera he bought to document his travels. The image was named best photojournalism print by Kendall Camera Club in its annual awards.

“I was stuck in traffic next to this bus of little girls making silly faces at us through the windows, but she stayed looking out with a half smile. We really connected,” Zamanillo said. “Most photographers would go for the smiling children, but her capture was more sincere.”

Zamanillo, 44, vice president of expansion projects and curator at HistoryMiami museum, has been a member of the club for three years and received one of 33 awards presented on Thursday, Sept. 26 at KCC’s 37th annual awards ceremony at Pinecrest’s Evelyn Greer Park.

Michael Thoennes, one of four judges of KCC’s annual awards, said Zamanillo’s image stood out with a “50’s street-jitters feel.”

“That one image had a range of values. It had strong depth in the blacks, and it was sharp and crisp,” Thoennes said. “The photographer also conveyed this moment and this expression, and there is so much more that can be read into it.”

The Kendall Camera Club is a Miami-based photography club founded in 1977 that meets every 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month. With 145 active members today, 28 submitted over 190 photos for this year’s competition.

Categories were divided into two groups — group A for semi-professional and professional photographers, and group B for hobbyist and beginners.

Thoennes, a commercial photographer and instructor at the Digital Photo Academy, says while he judges technical aspects, he also looks for emotional impact.

“Photography has become so ubiquitous,” Thoennes said. “We are surrounded by it and it is becoming more difficult to go beyond the normal and do something powerful. If an image conveys whatever emotion the photographer was trying to capture and express, then it’s a successful image.”

John McKnight, 67 of Southwest Miami, has been a member of the club for 20 years and won four awards including best monochrome print in group A and best landscape print.

The club’s best monochrome print tilted “Light in the Night” plays on what McKnight calls his biggest inspiration: light. The self-portrait was taken on a club field trip at Gold Coast Railroad Museum with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 camera.

He said while other photographers began to leave as it became dark, he stuck around to see what would happen.

“This flood light shined onto this pillar and captivated me,” McKnight said. “It’s all about getting the good light — pleasing, interesting, colorful light.”

McKnight was also named the club’s first Digital Photo Challenge photographer of the year and his photo “Pensive Cowboy” won digital photograph of the year.

The club began its monthly Digital Photo Challenge in 2012 and its first annual awards were judged by professional fine art nature photographer Robert Chaplin.

“Composition is mostly what I look for,” Chaplin said. “But a good photo is also finding a way to creatively break those rules.”

Chaplin said KCC’s new Digital Photo Challenge adds value to the club and reaches out to more people by eliminating the time and cost to print.

“It’s a novel way to incorporate what most of us use photography for,” Chaplin said. “Most images never get printed, you just see them on the web.”

In group B, Francesco Marchetti, 54 of Kendall, won the Julius Sirilo Memorial Award, named photographer of the year, and the Joe Dooley Memorial Award, with his photo titled “Me and My Shadow” named best photograph of the year.

Marchetti, KCC’s vice president and member for two years, spent over four hours observing flamingos at Flamingo Gardens before capturing the winning shot.

“I share an intimate relationship with my camera and become one with my subjects,” Marchetti said. “Flamingos are gentle souls and are choreographed so beautifully.”

Robert S. Suarez, professional photographer and judge, said that each winning photo had that “wow” factor.

“Everyone at the end of the night agreed that there were certain merits and that each winning photo had that first impact — that ‘wow’ factor,” he said.

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