Earlier this year, LexJet hosted the Click & Win Image Awards as part of the Click & Print Event. In the weeks leading up to the awards, photographers of all levels of expertise submitted images for the chance to win trophies and cash prizes, as well as experience what it’s like to participate in a photo competition.
By the time the judges made their final decisions, Kimberly Smith walked away with First Place in the Portrait category, with “Cameo”. She also received First Place and Best in Show for “Well, Hello There!”, her entry in Fine Art/Composite.
Once the winners were unveiled, Smith received some great feedback from Judge Cheri Hammon. “We really enjoyed the story of this [image], we loved the humor and the color pallet,” she said. “It was really well done.”
As for how the award-winning image came to be, Smith says she was inspired by some photos of birds she took while at the zoo and didn’t realize what she had until she was going through her photos. “I noticed this bird was bent over, looking at me through its legs like ‘Oh, hi! I didn’t see you there!’,” she says. “I knew that I had to do something with it.”
After she started working with the image, Smith wanted to add something that would explain why the bird was peeking through its legs. “I wanted him to be looking at something, but I didn’t want it to be another bird, I wanted the focus to be on him,” she says. “I added the butterflies because it had to be something that flies and could be up there.”
Her Best in Show piece wasn’t the only winner she captured that day at the zoo. Her second-place piece, “Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are” was also influenced by a bird, although, a much larger and more intimidating species. “I took a picture of some type of African Crane and the way he looked at me was creepy,” she says. “I wondered what kind of story I could tell with him. I could see him ripping through the side of a tent, just stalking somebody. He was scary.”
Fortunately, “High Society”, an artistic piece that took third place in Fine Art/Composite is a little lighter. That image showcases a spunky giraffe with several bowties and a flower dangling from his mouth.
“I’d been commissioned for a giraffe piece, but I wanted to see what else I could do with some of the other images. I really liked this one and I thought he needed a bowtie,” she says. “I remembered photographing a dog with a bowtie for another client. When I cut the bowtie out, a little fur came with it, so I thought I’d give the giraffe a fuzzy collar. I just kept going because he had such a long neck. I added the flower because I thought he needed something in his mouth.”
After sweeping the Fine Art category, Smith took the top spot in Portrait with her image “Cameo.” Although the image gives an old-time feel, it was created from a 2021 Senior photo shoot. “She loves old hats and stuff, so I photographed her with the hat,” she says. “I wanted it to be high-key, and I wanted it to be that old-fashioned look.”
Because Smith has a specific artistic look to her work, she needs the perfect media to complement it. Whether she’s teaching at the Texas School or submitting her work to State PPA competitions, Smith uses the Sunset Bright Velvet Rag 315g. “It’s the only one I get and the only one I tell people to use,” she says. “The light airy look just looks so good on that paper.”
Kimberly Smith did well at the 2021 Click & Win Image Awards, as well as Oklahoma and other Open competitions around the country, but for those photographers who are just learning about competitions, the Click & Print Event and the Image Awards offered insights from professional photographers who have spent years honing their craft. If you’d like to learn more from our keynote speakers, visit the showroom floor to catch them on-demand.