"I wanted to get a different view of it", explains SPARK Photo Club member Patrick Williams of his winning entry in this year's photo competition, organised by the Grace and Staff Community Development Foundation of GraceKennedy.

Patrick's photo – “Nuts in the Cloud” - of harvested peanuts in the "breadbasket" parish of St Elizabeth, was adjudged first place winner in the annual contest.

The awards were held last Thursday evening at the GraceKennedy headquarters on Harbour Street.

Both the SPARK - Spanish Town Photographic Artists Reaping Knowledge and LICK - Learning Institution of Central Kingston had over 40 entries in the competition bearing the theme "Leeds Through the Lens" which took the participants to the farming community of Leeds, in St Elizabeth, where they focussed on flora, animals, places of interest and people.

As a member of the SPARK club for a few years now, Patrick has been enjoying his immersion in the art - and science - of photography; holding the camera, composing shots for maximum effect, adjusting and printing the final image. All that has been imparted to him during his stint, as well as something even more vital.

Patrick, like most of the other young men and women enrolled in the two clubs (and across the programme spectrum) has evolved from somewhat introverted to articulate, especially in describing his creative process.

"Everyone was shooting it (the peanut harvest) from above,” he pointed out.

He added that he wanted to get a different perspective on it, including narrowing the depth of field to focus on the abundance of nuts in the foreground, but with the mountains and the sky blurred, but enhancing the overall image in the background.

“Giving it a somewhat impressionistic feel, and justifying the title, "Nuts in the Clouds",” he further explained.

The second prize was awarded to Monifa McKenzie for "Despair" and Courtney Bryan taking third for "Cherished Moments".

Another photo club member, Britley Bryan, who garnered several honourable mentions for her images, told the audience at the awards ceremony that the photography programme had helped to improve her time management.

She also shared that the programme had led her to commercial assignments, to the extent where the outgoing young miss now referred to herself as a professional photographer.

Consulting Psychologist for the Grace and Staff programme, Dr Curtis Sweeney pointed out that social media had made photography a more vibrant art form. In giving a brief overview of the photography programme, initiated in 1996, he said that the clubs had to date visited seven parishes, and had earned 17 awards in the annual JCDC Festival competition, including six last year out of just 12 entries.

General Manager of the Grace and Staff Foundation, Tanketa Chance-Wilson urged continued support for the work of the participants, to enable the Club to expand even further and provide more opportunities for the youngsters.

Members of the public were able to view and purchase the works of the participants in an exhibition at Hi-Lo Food Stores last Friday, with plans to stage another exhibition in conjunction with the Jamaica Library Service.

Since 1996, the LICK and SPARK Photography Clubs have been providing young people with a means of creative engagement and also of generating income.

The two clubs are part of the overall Grace and Staff Community Development Foundation programme, which encompasses homework assistance, guidance counselling, scholarship support, entrepreneurship and music. The Foundation will mark 40 years of service in 2018.



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