Famous photographer Ansel Adams once said, “A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.”
For Christine Cook, that is exactly what she had in mind while creating her 2016 Sunset Award winner, “Retreat,” pictured at left.
“As I was wandering through various options in my creative exploration, I felt myself going inside deeper and deeper — inside the shell and inside my own ethereal being” she says.
While participating in a macro photography workshop in Naples, Fla., Cook found herself taking a last minute, single shot of a nautilus shell with her Canon 7D. “This particular type of shell has been shot by many photographers before and done beautifully, so I wanted to make my version unique,” she says. “I persevered in making this nautilus shell say something about me.”
After getting home and spontaneously playing with its light and contrast in Photoshop, adding more “legs” for an enhanced inward feeling, and adding some filters, Cook had an unintended winner on her hands.
With “Retreat” being such a highly rewarded photograph, winning “Best Print of the Year” by the Florida Camera Club Council, it’s hard to believe it wasn’t originally thought of as a winner. Cook wasn’t even present for the judging at this year’s competition.
“I didn’t think I was going to win this year,” she says. “I had won last year and I didn’t think this year’s image was at the same level.” The judges disagreed with her, and ended up giving “Retreat” first place and a perfect score at the Florida Camera Club Council State Competition.
Cook is no stranger to blue ribbons and national recognition. She has won more than 64 awards, publications and exhibitions including winning the 2013 Sunset Award with “Rainy Day in Tuscany.” She has world-wide recognition as an International Fine Art Photography Award semi-finalist in Paris, France.
When she’s not celebrating her many wins, Cook has her hands full volunteering her time and talents to her community. As a certified Florida Master Naturalist, she volunteers at the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary conducting tours. She says, “Knowing about the environment as a photographer is a real boon. The two interests feed each other.”
Cook also teaches photography at the Naples Botanical Garden, she is highly involved in her local photography club, is a trained photography judge, and thoroughly enjoys travel.
When it comes to print competitions, Cook is a huge advocate. “DO IT!” she says. “Print competitions give you the opportunity to translate your beautiful digital image to a more permanent medium.”
She also believes it will help one develop more as a photographer, both personally and professionally. “This type of work prepares you for mounting your work on different surfaces, such as paper, canvas and metal, what pieces work best on what surface and what size and dimensions flatter your piece the best. And then you can sell it!”