“I thought if I got one image selected I would be shocked and then thrilled. It’s definitely an honor and I think it’s awesome to have our community showcased in Denver.”
— Janele Husband, a Craig resident and photographer
For Craig residents Janele Husband and Kathy Simpson, there's always been a certain love affair with photography.
Husband received her first camera at 10, and Simpson was fortunate enough to take an old film camera on a photo shoot in Africa.
After a lifetime of experimentation with the hobby, Husband and Simpson recently decided to do something neither photographer had done before — submit their work to a statewide competition.
In March, Husband and Simpson answered a call for entries from Creative Capitol for an exhibit called “Our Town, Colorado.”
Creative Capitol is a division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, and sponsors permanent and rotating art exhibits at the Colorado State Capitol in Denver.
“Our Town, Colorado” is a documentary photography exhibit that showcases traits that make communities throughout the state unique.
Of the 70 photographs from 27 artists representing 11 Colorado communities, nine images currently on display are Husband and Simpson originals.
“I thought if I got one image selected I would be shocked and then thrilled,” Husband said. “It’s definitely an honor and I think it’s awesome to have our community showcased in Denver.”
The exhibit runs until Dec. 3.
Photos are on display in the basement of the state capital rotunda and at the Lt. Governor’s Office, 200 E. Colfax, and at the OEDIT offices, 1625 Broadway, Suite 2700.
Both buildings are open to the public.
The images currently on display are not only representative of the culture and heritage of Craig and Moffat County, but of what Husband and Simpson are most inspired to shoot. Husband, for example, is drawn to scenery and wildlife.
The photos she submitted range from a deer blanketed in snow to Cedar Mountain in the summertime to the dense vapor clouds billowing from Craig Station during the winter.
Simpson is “all about horses” and photographing wildlife.
Her chosen images range from the Sand Wash Basin wild horses to sheep drives.
Although it took a bit of coaxing by Pam Foster, who encouraged Husband and Simpson to submit their photos to Creative Capitol after displaying some of their work at Colorado Northwestern Community College’s Craig Campus, Husband said her motivation for participating in the contest was to showcase Craig and Moffat County.
“I think a lot of people in the state probably haven’t been to this corner of Colorado,” Husband said. “My motivation was just to share the beauty of where we live.”
Much of that beauty, Simpson added, lies in the ecology and history of Craig and Moffat County.
“Every community has its history, but Craig is one of those places where the Old West stayed young and it’s still very Old West in places,” Simpson said. “We do have some unique areas and unique aspects being in the Mountain West, but also having high altitude desert.
We cover all of the ecosystems from desert to alpine. We also have a lot of things that are unique such as the Yampa River, which I think is one of our jewels.”
Surprisingly, neither photographer was nervous going into the competition and the lessons learned came after they were informed that some of their photos had been chosen.
“The hardest part of the process was adjusting the photos to the very uniform and very specific dimensions for the judging panel,” Husband said. “Then they asked me to write descriptions of my pieces and a biography. That was definitely the most time-consuming thing for me, but also a very good learning experience.”
Although Husband and Simpson are not actively pursuing other photo competitions, they would be open to submitting work again should something come up that suits them.
“Now I feel like I am much more confident because I understand what they (judges) are going to ask and what they will need,” Simpson said. “And it has taught me that maybe I can show more than just at the county fair.”
Although not actively seeking more competitions, the “Our Town, Colorado” experience did inspire Husband and Simpson to start a local photography club, which hosted its inaugural meeting in May.
Husband hopes the club will motivate local hobbyists to share their work and swap photography techniques.
“I remember seeing something for a camera club in Grand Junction about three years ago and I always wanted to do something locally,” Husband said. “I think there are a lot of photographers in Craig that are hobbyists and I think there is so much we can learn from each other.”
Simpson agrees, particularly in an era of digital photography.
“We’ve always had a vibrant art community in Craig, but photography seems to be on the rise a bit more and I think that has a lot to do with digital,” Simpson said. “I still look at those slides (from Africa) and wish I could go back there with a digital.
"It’s just so exciting to see images and not worry about waiting to get the film developed hoping you have one shot out of a roll of 36 that might be presentable.”
The club meets at 5 p.m. the second Monday of each month at Downtown Books, 543 Yampa Ave.
The club plans to meet a second time each month to shoot photos as a group out in the field.
The club’s next meeting is 5 p.m. today and is open to anyone interested in photography, Husband said.
For more information, call Downtown Books at 824-5343 or Husband at 629-1843.
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