GCC Student Finalist in Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest

April 25, 2014

Abigail Friel’s photograph of a young girl bottle feeding a lamb is one of 60 finalists selected from over 50,000 photographs submitted by photographers from 132 countries to Smithsonian Magazine’s 11th Annual Photo Contest. Friel’s photo, “Feeding time on Hettie Belle Farm” (Warwick, MA, February 2013, Nikon D5100), is one of ten finalists in the Americana category and is being considered for the Reader’s Choice award. Voting for the Reader’s Choice winner is until May 6 at 6 p.m. and Smithsonian will announce the Reader’s Choice, Grand Prize and six Category winners on May 15.

Friel, 36, formerly of Hatfield, works as a farmer and now lives near Portland, ME. Except for the GCC Art Student Exhibit, Friel had never exhibited her photography or entered any contests before entering the Smithsonian contest “on a whim.” She took the photo after studying digital photography (ART 151 Photography Foundation) with Assistant Professor Joan O’Beirne at Greenfield Community College. Prior to taking the course at GCC, Friel had taken several analog photography classes in college many years ago. Friel’s winning photo was exhibited as part of the GCC Art Student Exhibit in April 2013 and purchased by the GCC Art Department after that exhibit. The work is set to go on display in the college next year.

“Photography seems to come naturally to Abigail,” said O’Beirne. “From the beginning of class to the final project she was making beautiful photographs. I found it interesting that she often didn’t realize how good her images were!”

Friel appreciates what she learned at GCC, saying “I feel much more comfortable with my camera than I did at the start of Joan’s class and I really enjoyed her lectures and presentations on famous photographers. The critique sessions were also very interesting.”

Commenting on the subject of her winning photograph, Friel said, “The little girl in my photo is the daughter of a friend of a friend in Massachusetts. I had heard they had some newborn lambs and asked if I could go out to the farm and take some pictures. The mutual friend and I spent the afternoon with the two little girls and their dad. There were two lambs who were not gaining enough weight and had to be supplemented with bottle feeding.”

Looking ahead, Friel said, “I plan to continue taking classes and taking photos and see what happens. The GCC photo program is really outstanding, and I wish I could have taken more classes there.”

Photography Foundation (ART 151) is the first in a series of photography courses in GCC’s Art Department. It is an introduction to digital photography where students learn the visual, critical, and technical aspects of photography. They learn to use the DSLR, shooting, basic editing in Adobe Camera RAW, and ultimately produce a body of printed work. Students learn how to read photographs and become fluent in this form of visual language. Students generally possess a range of abilities in the foundation class: some come to the class with little or no knowledge of digital photography, while younger students may have studied photography in high school.

The 60 finalists in the Smithsonian contest are posted on the contest website at: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/photocontest/photo-contest-finalists-11th-annual-180950372/

The GCC 2014 Art Student Exhibit, an annual exhibition and celebration of the work of current GCC art majors is open through May 9 in GCC’s South Gallery on the Main Campus. Information about the GCC Art Department is available at http://art.gcc.mass.edu.

By Mary McClintock, ’82