Lady Luck smiles on winning photographers

It was a celebration of serendipity.

At Centennial College’s East York campus last month, student photographers were recognized for outstanding work at the “2011 CLIX Photo Contest.” And almost all of the winners said their pictures were the product of simply being in the right place at the right time.

Octavian Lacatusu, Alexandra Ward, Farhana Uddin, Shannon Keller, Mershia Gadzo, Andre Thurairatnam and Jessica Lee had their photos professionally printed and displayed in the campus art gallery.

Jim Babbage, a photography professor at the college, ran the awards. A teaching colleague of his, Joseph Marranca, had run something similar for a group of University of Toronto students taking Centennial journalism courses.

“Joseph had the show here last year and I said, ‘Well, I want to get everyone at this school involved,’” Babbage said, “mostly because we don’t see enough of the photography students’ work that they’ve done and I wanted people to be aware of it.”

One of the student winners, Shannon Keller, was vacationing in Cuba when she took her picture of pelicans flying.

“I was walking on a beach in Varadero and I thought, ‘Crap, I’m lugging this big camera around. I really hope there’s a picture,’ and funny enough there was one pelican and then as the day went on there were five,” Keller said, “and so when there were the three of them standing and I was taking photos and I was getting different angles and then all of a sudden they just started to fly. And I thought, ‘Yes this is perfect! This is exactly what I want!’ So I wasn’t really thinking anything in particular; it was more being prepared.”

Jessica Lee had a similar story. She placed in every category, and is pursuing photography as a career.

“I just see what’s in front of me and I’m like, ‘OK, that’s a good picture,’ and I just take a photo,” she said. “In one of the miscellaneous shots, my cousin and I were on a camping trip one day and she just decided to play the guitar and while she was playing I thought it was such a beautiful sight, so I grabbed my camera and captured that moment.”

Babbage hopes the CLIX contest continues and that more people will get involved and be motivated by seeing the prizes and pictures the students have taken.

“I am so impressed with these students. Not just the ones that were chosen, but everybody’s work was superlative,” he said. “I’m hoping that seeing what we see now, the interest is going to ramp up and then we’ll see a lot more students getting excited about doing this next year.”