By Haiyu Zheng, Contributing Writing
UMF Mantor Library recently held the “Live. Travel. Adventure” Photo Contest, which invited both professional and amateur photographers on campus to enter their best adventure photos for a chance to win a prize. Thirty-six astonishing photographs from twelve candidates were displayed on the gallery wall to ignite people’s sense of wonder by providing extraordinary stories.
According to Mantor Library staff member Kelly Boivin, “Live. Travel. Adventure” is the theme of UMF’s annual reading program “On Our Minds” this year. Their goal is to get as many people on campus as possible reading and talking about the same book and sharing the reading experience.
Boivin believed that there was no better way to get people involved than a travel photography contest. “This theme just begs for a photo contest,” Boivin said. “We got twelve people submitting the photos, and every single photo is somebody’s adventure.”
UMF senior Brianna Martin was surprised when finding out that she won both the first and second place prizes of $75 and $25 with her images shot from her iPhone on her semester abroad in India. “I think people like [the photos] because they can be transported to that environment when seeing them,” said Martin.
In the prize presentation ceremony, Martin was awarded by the sponsor of this contest, Ann Arbor, a local professional photographer in Farmington. Standing in front of the gallery wall, Martin told the stunning story behind her photos.
“The picture with the powder on my face, that was during Holi, a Hindu festival which symbolizes the win of good over evil,” said Martin. “People walked on the street and threw colored powder on each other. The pink on this side of my face was from a random man who came to me and put his hand on my face and smeared the powder.” Martin laughed, and lifted her eyebrows as if she could still remember the initial shock that she received during that special moment.
Martin thought that picture symbolized her full immersion in a different culture by trying something new even if it was not very comfortable, which was an adventure.
The photo that won second place was shot in Lodhi Gardens in New Delhi. When capturing that scene, Martin stood in the darkness looking through the brightness of the gardens located on the other side of the path.
“It didn’t seem real to me. It was so beautiful. It made me think of the Jungle Book in reality,” Martin gasped.
UMF Senior Sam Carignan, who submitted three photos of his trip in Germany, showed his appreciation to Martin’s photographs. “Knowing the whole story behind it helped me to understand the photo, but I think they’re already beautiful by themselves,” said Carignan. He commented that Martin did a really great job on the Lodhi Garden photograph. “The darker side narrows down the focal point, and that focal point was beautiful. I’m glad she won,” Carignan said, with a satisfied tone as if he himself won the competition, leaning back in his chair.
The photo contest provided UMF students an opportunity to showcase people’s attitude and quality of life. Instead of merely showing scenes, it’s a buffet of different lifestyles. People learned more from the competition than what they expected. “I learned that you don’t have to be a professional photographer to take pictures that make others feel happy or certain emotion,” said Martin.
To make it completely open to everyone, the contest organizer offered two ways of voting. One was voting in-person in the library. The photos were all numbered on the wall and people who passed by wrote down the number of their favorite images. The other method was online voting. All the photos were posted on Facebook. Any reaction on Facebook was counted: likes, smiley faces, or comments. Boivin explained that they didn’t put any boundaries on the voting.
The photos are still displayed in the library. More information about the coming activities held by Mantor Library can be found on its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/mantorlibrary.