The Face of Florida

Weekly Planet's Third Annual Photo Contest

For our third annual photography contest, we asked you to capture the personality, character and spirit of Floridians in that classic form, the portrait. We received 426 entries, and we wish we could publish them all to give you an idea of the range of talent we have and the characters they captured. We got pictures of angels, devils, cigar rollers, cigar smokers, nudes, seminudes, Southern belles, clowns, transvestites, bicyclists, kayakers, dancers, actors, musicians, artists, domino players, pirates, cops, construction workers, parachutists, bathing beauties, bathing uglies, gun-totin' mamas, and lots and lots and lots of kids. Many thanks to our Art Director, Todd Bates, for organizing the competition, to our judge, Gary Monroe, and to all those brave souls who sent us so many wonderful pictures of friends, family, pets and strangers.

Judges Statement

During the mid-1970s I was an undergrad in the University of South Florida art department. It was a very exciting time there; art was in the air and many friendships were formed. Photographers who have made the area home, including my classmates Suzanne Camp Crosby and Peter Foe, and others who have come to teach, such as Lou Marcus and Wally Wilson, up the ante for all. Given knowledgeable collectors like Bill Zewadski and the community support that the arts, especially photography, receives, it seems to me that Tampa Bay remains a hub of artistic activity.

Choosing the photographs that were to receive recognition is largely subjective. Although I, like other experienced photographers, have a pluralistic and contemporary view about relevant imagery, a juror's own predilections enter the mix. It's nearly inescapable. Nevertheless, the first means for valuing a photograph is the photographer's technique; craftsmanship implies pride and clarity. It mattered little to me whether the artist was working directorially or was exploring his or her own sensibilities with another manipulated approach, or if he or she was using the camera as a window, where placing the frame around specific facts implied personal value. The intensity of one's vision becomes the content of the work. As Minor White once said: "The camera is always pointed inward." It's an inescapable truth. No matter how one (like myself) tries to deny one's hand, it's just part of the illusion that yields plausibility. The photos I awarded prizes to capitalize on the notion that believability is the crux of photographic imagery. It is of course just one guiding light.

The curiosity about the third-place photo, by David Scott, tells us that a viewer never really knows the proverbial story, that a photograph is no more fact than fiction. But one thing's for sure: No other medium can tantalize a viewer, as evidenced by Bethany Souza's second-place photo, letting the camera describe things in its inherently mystifying way. David Audet's first-place photo is, in the words of my first-semester prof Oscar Baily, "bold and handsome," combining formal resolve with the photographer's acknowledgement that what's at stake is not art-as-product but a way of looking that respects what one is privileged to behold.

—Gary Monroe

About the Judge

Gary Monroe, a native of Miami Beach, received a master's degree in the fine arts from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1977. Since then he has documented the Old World culture of Miami's South Beach, traveled throughout Haiti with camera in hand and looked at tourism across Florida, especially the "rite of passage" of vacationers at Disney World. Monroe has also photographed at Cassadaga. This work resulted in Cassadaga: The South's Oldest Spiritualist Community (University Press of Florida, 2000). During the last decade, he has been traveling the world to photograph — to Brazil, Israel, Cuba, and India, to name a few of the countries that interest him.

Monroe has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Florida Department of State's Division of Cultural Affairs, Florida Humanities Council and the Fulbright Foundation to support his photography. His longtime interest in "outsider" and vernacular art spurred his research about the Highwaymen; his book The Highwaymen/ Florida's African-American Landscape Painters is being published by the University Press of Florida (release: August 2001). He is currently writing about self-taught artists in Florida.

First Place David Audet, Tampa

  Second Place Bethany Souza, Largo

Third Place David B. Scott, Holmes Beach

Honorable Mention Virginia Daniel, Largo

Honorable Mention Maida Millan, Tampa

Honorable Mention A. Kattaryna Breaux, Tampa

Honorable Mention Heather Kulchar, Gulfport

Honorable Mention Douglas F. Mooney, Tampa

Honorable Mention Amy Goforth, St. Petersburg

Honorable Mention Mary Rodriguez, Brandon

Honorable Mention Adam Gottschalk, Lutz

Honorable Mention Ronald Schleich, St. Petersburg

Honorable Mention Jason Schwartz, Toronto

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