By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Photographer Charrie Shockey loves her art. Shockey is especially fond of taking nature photographs. That passion led her to enter the Annual Oklahoma Tree Photo Contest put on by the Norman Park Foundation.
“It was my first year to enter any photography contest,” Shockey said. “I was flabbergasted to win first place for black and white.”
The contest is a relatively lucrative one, with $3,000 in cash prizes awarded. First prize wins $500, 2nd prize $150 and 3rd prize $100. Photographers may enter three pictures for the entry fee of $25 in four categories: Professional Color, Professional Black and White, Amateur Color and Amateur Black and White.
An independent panel of judges determines prize winners.
For Shockey, creating photographic art is about bringing joy to herself and others. She said she enjoys the calm and peace of landscape. Shockey lives in Ardmore and has been a professional photographer for the past five years. She has been a photographer for 10 years.
Last year, Shockey also won the cover of the 2013 Oklahoma Living Calendar with a wildflower photo of a wildflower — Antelope Horns.
“Recognition helps you do better the next time around,” Shockey said. “You’re always trying to better yourself. If you get a win, it justifies what you do.”
Norman photographer Debra Van Swearingin has entered the annual photo contest for several years. Last year she won two prizes, second place and third place in the professional black and white category.
“I feel like color is an every day thing,” Van Swearingin said of her love for black and white photographic art. “Black and white photography gives a touch of vintage.”
One of her entries, “Road into the Unknown,” has an aged look.
“I love the nostalgic feel of images,” she said.
The tree photo contest is perfect for Van Swearingin because she shoots a lot of trees.
“Trees have a lot of character, especially in this state,” she said.
The entries that come into the annual tree photo contest are creative and competitive. Shockey said Oklahoma inspires nature photography.
“I’m just a small-town photographer,” Shockey said. “I definitely like to travel and take photos of our beautiful state.”
Shockey also won 2nd place in Ardmore’s Goddard Center photography contest last year for a photo of an old train.
“Last year was an awesome year,” she said. “That’s my biggest year I’ve ever had in my whole life. It justifies all the money I’ve put into this business.”
While the professional category sees incredible entries each year, the amateur photos are equally stunning.
“Every year we say the quality improves — it just gets better and better,” said Joe Sparks, Parks Foundation board member. “Last year we had 267 photos. The year before we had 163. That’s a 63 percent increase.”
One reason for the strong entry response last year was the increase in prize money, he said.
All manner of entries are welcome, including photos of snowy trees, dead trees, blooming trees, rows of trees, shadows of trees, colorful trees, bare trees, roots of trees and weird trees. The park foundation wants artistic, extraordinary and unique photographs of trees.
The deadline for entering the contest is Nov. 4, between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Photographs framed per the specifications outlined on the application available for downloading at normanparkfoundation.com will be accepted at Legend’s Times Two, 1333 W. Lindsey on Nov. 4.
The exhibit will hang at First Fidelity Bank, 131 E. Main Street, from Nov. 12 through Dec. 13. Awards will be presented at a reception on Dec. 13, which is Norman’s Second Friday Circuit of Art.
For more information or to have the application sent via mail, call Joe Sparks at 364-7152.