W.Va. photographers are picture perfect

Two members of the Martinsburg Boys & Girls Club won scholarships in a national photo contest

Two members of the Martinsburg Boys & Girls Club won scholarships in a national photo contest

August 04, 2002|by CANDICE BOSELY

Beth Chapman learned a different way to look at the world.

During a recent trip to New York, for example, she saw things not through a tourist's eyes, but through a different sort of lens.

"I was seeing things in pictures," she said, adding later, "It's easier for me to tell a story through pictures than words."

Chapman and Liam Bowers, two 17-year-old photography "apprentices" at the Martinsburg Boys & Girls Club, each recently won $3,000 scholarships through the ImageMakers National Photography Contest. They will visit Philadelphia later this month to shoot the ESPN X-Games.


They will also each receive a Nikon digital camera. Two other local Boys & Girls Club members, too young to compete for the scholarships, still received national recognition, and will also head to Philadelphia.

Meredith Brining, 12, of Berkeley Springs, placed first in her age group in the color photograph category. Her photo depicts a black offering bag highlighted by a background of golden pews. It was taken at Tuscarora Presbyterian Church.

Although Brining, who will be a seventh-grader this fall at Warm Springs Middle School, started taking pictures just about a year ago, her photo was deemed better than thousands of photographs entered at the local level and more than 100 photos entered regionally.

The same is true for Josh Triggs, 14, of Martinsburg, who won in his age group in the alternative process category.

While on vacation in Springfield, Mass., he shot a picture of a spiral staircase at the armory. The negative reversal image is "a white piece of paper with a black swirl," he said. "It's very odd, but I like it."

Triggs, who will be a freshman at Martinsburg High School this fall, said he has been taking pictures since he "was little," and began with the Boys & Girls Club about two years ago.

"I like turning a white piece of paper into art," he said.

To compete for the four scholarships, 16- to 18-year-olds had to submit a five-photo portfolio. Eighteen teenagers from across the nation entered.

Patrick Murphy, a longtime Jefferson County teacher and head of the Club's photography program, said he "was floating" when he learned half of the scholarships would be awarded to his students.

The other winners hailed from Arizona and Wisconsin, said Jennifer Young, assistant director of art programs for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Bowers and Chapman can use the scholarship at any college, university, trade school or art school, Young said. The money can also be used to pay for courses designed to further their arts education, she said.

Chapman plans to enter the music program at West Virginia University and is considering a minor in photojournalism. Bowers hopes to study biology at St. Marys College in Maryland and plans to become a radiologist.

Both said they plan to continue photography, at least as a hobby.

Bowers said some of his favorite photographs were taken in Maine, which he has visited twice and is considering moving to after school.

"I like trying to capture a place in a single photograph," he said.

While he found a lot worth "capturing" in Maine, he found very little worth capturing in Texas, he said with a smile.

As far as Martinsburg, Bowers said he was not sure what image he would use to capture its essence. A downtown shot or a photograph of a vacant building might suffice, he said.

At the X-Games, the teens might be paired with an Associated Press photographer, if Boys & Girls Club officials can arrange for it, Young said.

Bowers made a two-thumbs up gesture when asked about attending the X-Games.

Shooting such fast-paced sports as skateboarding, wakeboarding, bicycle stunt competitions, speed climbing, downhill BMX racing and aggressive in-line skating may be a bit easier for Bowers. He has shot Shepherd College football and basketball games, a Martinsburg High School track meet, a bicycle race and a whitewater rafting trip.

Chapman said she has not taken any action photographs but is looking forward to the challenge.

They leave for Philadelphia Aug. 15 and will return Aug. 18.

Murphy has been working with Bowers since he was about 11 years old and has watched him mature both as a photographer and a young man, he said.

"I have a lot of hope for him. I know the scholarship will be a good investment with him," he said.

He also praised Chapman. She is "like a sponge. She soaks up what you teach," he said.

The first-ever scholarships are part of a three-year, $3 million partnership Circuit City formed with the Boys & Girls Clubs, Young said.

Photography has been a part of the Boys & Girls Club for 41 years, Young said, and in that time Martinsburg has gained a reputation.

"They're just known as having a very strong photography program," she said, speaking from her office in Atlanta.

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