Housed at the OCC Arts Center, the event showcased hundreds of photographs from students. Inside, pictures hung from wall to wall with a short label under them indicating the names of the piece, the photographer, and the school they were from. The photographers, judges, and their family or friends made up the 50 members at the event. Over 20 schools from all over Orange County were represented, including: Mission Viejo, Irvine, Costa Mesa and Corona del Mar. The photograhy contest has been around since 1992, when Mesa’s first photography teacher, Ellen Butler, started it. There were over a hundred submissions and about 30 awards available.
Costa Mesa High students Janelle Alonzo (11th) and Kristina Perelta (12th) both took home awards for their photograph submissions. Alonzo won the “Photographer of Merit” award for her “Raw” series, which are four black and white photographs depicting a female’s torso, back, and shoulders. Perelta’s award was the “Project of Merit” for her “Time & Reptition” piece and science fiction and space-scapes. Both winners received a couple hundred dollars to go along with their awards.
Alonzo delved deeper into the process of making “Raw”. She found inspiration one night at 2 AM, whilst scrolling through Tumblr and realizing that she had did not have work for her portfolio for her AP Studio Art class. She was very proud of her work stating, “Almost all the pictures that are featured in my concentration have ended up being the most proud I've been of any photos that I've taken.” When asked about the provocativeness of the piece she admitted it was a little out of her character, but she thought it was necessary to put “a focus on the vulnerability and rawness seen among humans at the most basic and natural level."
Along with these two winners, many others received Honorable Mentions for their works. Ellie Aguilar (11th) received one for her photographs “Voiceless” and “Look”. Nataly Centeno (12th) was given an Honorable Mention for her photograph titled “Earth Child”. Also, Odree Gould (12th) received an Honorable Mention for her work titled “Femme Fatale”.