Congratulations to all photographers who submitted their work to the Essence of Bellingham photo competition this year. Paul Conrad, Nathan Rachinski and Joe Addison are the photographers whose submissions won Best of Show. Kayleigh Proctor-Finnegan's photo won Best of Class for 5th-8th grade, and Benjamin Herr's photo won Best of Class for 9th-12th grade.
More than 100 people will receive recognition for their submissions in various categories as Best of Class, Best of Category, Best of Subject or Honorable Mention.
All winning photos will be featured in an exhibit in the City Hall lobby, 210 Lottie St., which will open to the public during the First Friday Art Walk on June 7 from 5-8 p.m. A small reception for winners will be held at 6:30 p.m. that evening, during which they will receive awards for their work from Mayor Pro Tem Gene Knutson.
This year, the City received a total of 393 photos. The winning photos were decided by a jury of two Mayor's office and City Council employees, a representative from the Downtown Bellingham Partnership, a WWU professor of art and photography, and a representative from the Whatcom Museum.
This competition, now in its thirteenth year, offers residents a chance to show the City what they think best captures the essence of working, playing and living in Bellingham. Photos are divided into submissions from 5-8th graders, 9-12th graders, college students, amateur photographers and professional photographers.
Paul Conrad's photo "Waypoint Park Reflections" (above) won Best of Show 1st Place. The jury picked this photo because of the moment in time it captures and the story it tells. In addition to the creative angle and quality of the image, it shows daily activities of Bellinghamsters, the natural landscape, a glimpse of the waterfront, and a typical gray, wet day – components that the jury felt captured the true “essence" of living in Bellingham.
Nathan Rachinski's photo "Night lyfe XD" (bottom left) won Best of Show 2nd Place because it highlights Bellingham's urban center, has stark contrast, and creatively captures the Herald building reflection in the window. While many photos of Bellingham's natural beauty are apt to describe the essence of Bellingham, the jury felt a young person immersed in nightlife with recognizable downtown markers was equally suitable and unique.
Joe Addison's photo "Fog Rolls Through Western's Red Square" (bottom right) won Best of Show 3rd Place because of how it captured the ghost of Sehome Hill, ethereal light, and some of Western Washington University's oldest architecture. This image showcases the roots of the university and isolated students in motion – a unique take on college life in 2019.
It's never too early to start snapping photos! Get ready for next year's competition, which will open for submissions on March 1, 2020. Click here to see a selection of winning photos and Honorable Mentions. For questions about the jury process, contact Vanessa Blackburn in the Mayor's Office.