Photo competition gets a makeover due to pandemic

Published 8:20 am Wednesday, July 22, 2020

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For the Washington Daily News


The long-running annual photography competition sponsored by Arts of the Pamlico will still be held this year, but not at the Turnage Theatre — and not because the historic building is under renovation.

As with so many other Beaufort County events, the popular show has gone virtual due to the limitations of the COVID-19 virus. Organizers are saying there’s still time to enter the event.

“It is actually our third virtual art exhibit this year,” said Executive Director Debra Torrence, who noted that a member show took place in early spring and another, featuring Cypress Landing artists, will be online within the next two weeks.

Entries must arrive by July 31 for the show, which will run from Aug. 17 through Oct. 15. There is no entry fee but, according to the group’s web site, donations are welcome. An example of a virtual art show may be viewed at and more information about specific  requirements for the show can be found at on the “artist opportunities” section of the website.

There are more changes than the nature of the viewing the show. Torrence said the show will not be juried this year, but there will be opportunities for viewers to buy the artwork they see online. She said the exhibit will also be set to music, a first for the photography show and competition.

“This allows us to increase our reach for viewers, as well as opportunities for our artists to show and sell their work,” Torrence said.

Torrence said a possibility still being discussed is the idea of sharing the entries on social media and asking viewers to vote for their favorite photo, which would result in a commemorative ribbon for the winning photographer.

Also different this year is the length of the show, which Torrence said will stay up longer than previous ones.

“It will have more reach because it is online, also allowing for more opportunities for our artists to show and sell. Our commissions are also different this year,” Torrence said. “We’ve reduced them from 30% to 15% to support our artists and share the pain (of dealing with the pandemic).”

The show, which historically has attracted between 25 and 30 entrants, is open to photographers aged 18 and older, whether they are “photographers, photograph hobbyists, Smart Phone users, AOP members, community member or visitors to eastern North Carolina with all level of experience,” according to the Call For Art, which includes all entry requirements and can be found at

Torrence said there are also no limits regarding style or topic.

“It can be your favorite picture of your cat or a beautifully composed lighthouse shot through a stormy gale — so be creative,” she said.

Competition veteran Mary Jean “MJ” Peters, whose photos have won awards since she started entering them here in 2003, said she is most enthusiastic about what will be offered by the younger generation.

“I love to see their photography, because they just take it as it is,” Peters said.

The 85-year-old Chocowinity resident, who will be entering black and white photographs this year, said she regularly encourages youth to explore the limits of photography as soon as they are attracted to the hobby, and, perhaps, the eventual profession.

“I started as a kid, with the little ‘Brownie’ box camera fromm Kodak. You can do this at any age, because it’s never too early to start,” Peters said.

For more information about the virtual photography show, visit